Know Your Heroes: Judy McConnell

Know Your Heroes showcases the many different people and roles that make up #TeamUHN. We celebrate these people, who strive to make the world a healthier place every day. 

Name: Judy McConnell 
Title: Clinical Research Coordinator 
Years working in health care: 11 
I was born and raised in: Windsor, Ontario 

I decided to get into health care because I have always been drawn to science and learning about how the body works. Coupling that fascination with the desire to help people has led me to the perfect career path in health care and specifically, lung cancer research. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer for both men and women in Canada. This highlights the importance of our team’s end goal, which is always to help patients by discovering better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat lung disease. 

My role here at UHN is to assist and coordinate the work of our research team in all translational research. This includes ensuring preclinical and clinical research meets all regulations including those regarding safety, government rules and regulations and hospital ethics. 

COVID-19 has affected me by not always doing well with change. In the beginning, there was a lot of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty with my work, personal life and my children’s well-being. However, there have been many silver linings throughout this pandemic that I am very grateful for. It has allowed us to slow down a bit and focus on some of the important things we were missing pre-COVID.   

The thing I love the most about my job is the impact our research is having on patients, the scientific community and the world and that I work with amazing people! Our team is composed of a group with such diverse talent and enthusiasm for what they do. I am lucky enough to have made lifelong friendships with many coworkers.   

The most incredible thing I’ve seen at work is the first time I was able to see Dr. Kazu Yasufuku (Director of the Interventional Thoracic Surgery Program at UHN) perform surgery. I was able to see his talent, passion and pursuit of excellence as a surgeon. The patient was also enrolled in one of our clinical studies so I was able to see the benefits of our research in real time. This study in particular was looking at a new way to localize small nodules, or abnormal tissue, in the lung (which can be hard to find during surgery) before they are removed by a videoscopic lung wedge resection. It was amazing to witness and be a part of.  

I’m inspired by perseverance in any form. It can be at work, in sports or anywhere. Anyone that decides that they will not let anything stop them from reaching their dreams and goals – that’s inspiring! 

One of my personal heroes is my close friend Tara. She has battled cancer and other health ailments several times in her life. Any time she is going through treatment she always remains strong, has a positive outlook on things and puts her family first.  

I’m sometimes worry that 2020 has provided a heavy dose of uncertainty in health, politics and the economy. I sometimes worry about what the impact will be on the future for my children. 

I’ve found joy recently from being forced to get out and explore my neighbourhood more because of to the pandemic. We have found some great trails and parks in our area that we can enjoy as a family.  

My favourite movie is A League of Their Own. It is a classic movie, funny and heart-warming. I grew up playing baseball, so I love watching a movie about women playing baseball and the underlying message that shows what women in sports are capable of.  

My ideal day off is, if the weather allows, anything by the water: ocean, lake or pool!  

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