Volume 35 Number 4 | August 2021

Mechelle Reeve, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS-Idaho

What is joy? Kami McGann is the epitome of joy. And “Choose Joy” became the theme of Hospital Week this year for Valor Health in Emmett, Idaho, where she worked. She was the lead scientist and had recently become the lab manager of Valor Health. Kami was a scientist at heart. Her scientific approach to work, decisions, life, spiritual things, and living with purpose served her well. But her Choose Joy attitude, especially the past few years, spread well beyond her small town and laboratory.

Kami was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in April 2019. Although this was devastating news for her and her family, Kami decided to Choose Joy as she tackled this new challenge in her life. She was influenced by the writings of Christian author Kay Warren and made the choice to consciously Choose Joy every day and in every circumstance. Studying the Bible and approaching her spiritual life with her scientific mind also gave her strength and inspiration to face each day. Her husband Scott said, “She just saw too much to miss out on to choose any other approach.”

Kami was an inspiration to many, and anyone who met her would be greeted by her infectious, beautiful smile. She was a caring leader and example both within our profession and outside of it. She mentored her fellow coworkers and ran a great laboratory. She was one of the best phlebotomists, and her patients say they never got a bruise when she drew their blood. She knew her patients, her community, and her coworkers. She cared about people and loved them. She went the extra mile to help people she knew who were in the hospital or struggling with something, and she was known to give care packages to help with what they are going through.

She was actively involved in ASCLS locally in her state and even on a national committee. She attended many laboratory conventions and enjoyed learning. She loved the laboratory and Valor Health—it was her second home. Even while going through numerous chemotherapy treatments, radiation, and amid Covid, Kami still maintained her position in the lab to provide necessary laboratory tests to the community which she served and leadership to her team. And through the Covid pandemic her hugs may have been less, and her smiling face may have not been seen as frequent behind the mask, but you could still see and feel the Choose Joy attitude she had. Even on days where she was tired or not feeling well from chemo treatments, she would still be reaching out to friends, checking her work emails, and working on projects.

In her spare time, she and her family very much enjoyed the outdoors together, especially hunting. She was an expert shooter and bow hunter. She picked up bow hunting from her husband Scott prior to them being married, and at their wedding they became “Hunting Partners for Life,” which she had inscribed on Scott’s wedding ring. She supported and was involved in her husband’s organization, Scooters Hunting Camp, which has introduced over 5,000 kids to hunting over the past 20 years, as well as Hunting Dreams, which takes sick or terminally ill kids on their dream hunt. How ironic Kami said it was that she has been part of helping sick and terminally ill kids and now she finds herself terminally ill. She was their army when they needed her, and then they became her army.

Kami and her Choose Joy attitude continue to be an inspiration to others. She passed away on February 19, 2021, at home with her husband and two young boys present. Kami did not “lose” the battle with cancer, instead she showed how she could fight a good fight and persevere joyfully to the end. She will be missed by family, friends, colleagues, hunting groups, and her community, but her Choose Joy legacy will live on.

Even when she had every right to feel down or blue, she continued to be positive, Choose Joy, and spread that joy to others. Her husband Scott recalls, “I remember many times in taking her to Boise for chemo treatments that I would get frustrated by the traffic. She would chide me—Scott, really? This is what you choose to get angry over?”

There are many times and many reasons where in having a bad day or going through a challenging time at work or in our own personal lives it is hard to see the good in things. But Kami could and Kami did. She saw blessings and positive things happen in her life and chose to focus on those rather than her own circumstances. She continued to be faithful to her spiritual convictions and thank God for the things she had. Even if you didn’t know Kami, let her story live on and try to emulate her Choose Joy attitude even when times are tough.

A memorial fund has been started by her husband Scott to help students at the Idaho State University Medical Laboratory Sciences program to further their college dreams, career, and passions. The “Kami McGann CHOOSE JOY Memorial Scholarship” will be just another way that Kami will help and inspire others.

So why choose the laboratory and why choose ASCLS? I found one of my best friends through ASCLS, and she gives me the inspiration to keep going and Choose Joy every day and in every challenge. May she inspire you to do so also.

Mechelle Reeve is a Medical Laboratory Scientist at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Hospital in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Kami McGann

Kami McGann was a 2017 ASCLS Voices Under 40 Award recipient.

Kami McGann's Family

The McGann family: sons Micah and Nathan, Kami, and her husband Scott.

Mechelle Reeve, Kami McGann, and Diane Stumpf

Mechelle Reeve, Kami McGann, and Diane Stumpf at the ASCLS Annual Meeting in 2016.