Community Pride, Hometown Proud, Giving Back to Her Community
In the early 1970s, Dee’s family would experience first-hand the impact that state-of-the-art medical care can make. At that time, Dee’s father, Ralph Dawson, became one of Dr. Erik Gundersen’s first heart bypass patients. A procedure that was expected to extend her father’s life for five or ten years helped give Ralph an additional 27 years with his family—a gift that Dee’s family recognized as “priceless.”
Decades later, Dee felt honored to be able to help other families in the midst of a medical crisis. For nine years Dee served as a social worker in Gundersen’s emergency room. “Seeing the care patients received was inspiring,” says Dee. “As a professional, I was thankful to be part of a team that helped so many people; I loved my job.”
When Dee was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012—just five years after her daughter, then 40, had received treatment for breast cancer—there was no doubt about where she would be treated.
Today, as an active 70-year-old retiree, Dee enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren, while also staying involved in several community organizations. She has participated in annual service trips with organizations such as Global Partners and Habitat for Humanity. Dee believes that traveling, particularly to parts of the world where access to modern medicine is not always available, has further deepened her appreciation for the care available at home.
Dee’s collective experiences, both personal and professional, have filled her with gratitude and affirmed her sense of community pride. That is why Dee decided to provide for Gundersen Medical Foundation through a bequest in her will to support cancer research. “Having access to the quality of care we have in our community is such a blessing,” says Dee, who hopes her gift will one day help researchers find a cure for cancer.