From tragedy to triumph
McHone turns loss of parent into passion for helping others
by Keith Strange Staff Reporter
Adam McHone’s youthful appearance, quiet demeanor and easy smile would make it easy to mistake him for just another twenty-something.
But nothing could be farther from the truth.
McHone has a drive for helping others, a trait he learned from his late mother.
An emergency room nurse, McHone said early trials in his life led him to what he calls his “passion,” but it has not been without determination and struggle.
“When I was 4, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27,” he said Thursday. “What ended up happening was a 14-year battle with cancer that ultimately progressed to her liver. She passed away in 2005 when I’d just turned 18.”
Her dream, McHone said, was to see him graduate from East Surry High School.
And she did.
“I graduated in June, 2005, and she died in October,” he said quietly.
But watching her work full-time while struggling with cancer, and the associated doctor’s visits, lit a spark that burns to this day.
“I was exposed to medicine and it struck an interest in me,” he said. “I developed a passion for helping others.”
At age 17, McHone joined the Pilot Mountain Rescue Squad, where he said he was further exposed to medicine and emergency services.
“Because of that experience, I started taking nursing assistant classes in high school and completed my emergency medical technician certification at night while still in school,” he said.
Shortly after graduating, McHone was hired to work at Northern Hospital of Surry County in the intensive care unit.
“That was where I decided I wanted to become a nurse like my mother,” he said.
While enrolled in nursing school at Surry Community College, McHone realized his passion was emergency medicine.
“I finished my two-year degree at SCC while working nights in the emergency room at the hospital,” he said.
But, driven to succeed, he was far from through.
“Shortly after getting my two-year degree, I went to Winston-Salem State University and got my bachelor’s degree in nursing while continuing to work full-time,” he said. “I’d always had a dream to be able to work on the AirCare helicopter that goes to accident scenes and things, and ended up working on it full-time for a year while getting my master’s degree in nursing.”
“It was just an extraordinary experience,” he said. “I still love it, and work for them part-time to this day. I try to do a couple of weekends a month.”
After receiving his advanced degree, McHone knew one thing: “My goal was to get back to this emergency room,” he said as doctors and nurses bustled about taking care of the steady stream of patients. “The people here have taken me under their wing and given me a foundation of what emergency medicine should be. They’ve supported me in allowing me to fulfill my career dream.”
Asked why nursing, he stumbled.
“I look back and sometimes wish I’d gone to medical school from the beginning, but I wanted to stay in Surry County and knew I had to pay my way through school,” he said. “This is the path that God wanted me to go down. It’s just been seamless. I’m so appreciative of the opportunities I’ve been given. Medicine excites me. I have a passion for what I do. It’s just great to be able to get up every morning excited about the prospect of going to work.”
He credits his mother for putting him on his life’s path.
“Seeing what my mother went through while continuing to work full-time at a doctor’s office helping others gave me the love and determination to be as passionate as she was about caring for others,” McHone said. “I’d do it 24 hours a day if I could.”
In January, McHone will begin working on a doctorate degree in nursing through the University of South Alabama.
He is 26 years old.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.
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