It was Christmas 2009 when Mike Gleason received a diagnosis that shattered his world and that of his family: He had glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive brain tumor with a bleak prognosis. He also had a wife and two sons, ages 6 months and 2 years.
Mike, a longtime Best Buy employee, worked in the Demand Planning department at the corporate office. His role was to stay on top of technology and forecast the latest products customers would want. What he couldn’t have predicted was that diagnosis – or how he’d lose his hard-fought battle with cancer just seven months later, at age 32.
“We knew that the odds were completely against him. Glioblastoma has a horrible survival rate, and things didn’t look good for him from the beginning,” said Joe Gleason. “He was scared, and we were all scared for him as well.”
Joe is Mike’s younger brother. He and their sister, Katie, always looked up to Mike, a guy who became fast friends with everyone – including his teammates – and was known for his sense of humor, his love for his family and his pride in working for Best Buy.
More than a brother
Joe is also Dr. Joseph Gleason, adjunct clinical faculty and chief of pediatric urology for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® in Memphis. In this role, Joe works in Mike’s honor every day.
Like many of the patients Joe treats, Mike faced cancer head-on. He underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
“I have an appreciation of the great duress and trials the families of cancer patients go through, both during diagnosis and treatment, and even into the recovery and monitoring phase,” Joe said. “I try to bring that understanding and experience with me into each patient encounter at St. Jude, and into the operations we perform on these children. I know many of them have brothers, and they all have parents. These people are affected almost as much as the patients are.”
In serving patients with kidney and other genito-urinary cancers, Joe helps St. Jude lead the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer. Joe and the other physicians and scientists at St. Jude continually work to find breakthroughs, which are freely shared with doctors and hospitals around the world. – These breakthroughs could one day prevent families from ever having to experience what Joe’s family has.
“Being a surgeon at St. Jude has enriched my career and life in so many ways! I have felt the amazing support that St. Jude offers its patients and families, and have been able to deliver the care and treatments these kids need to recover from the terrible illnesses afflicting them,” Joe said. “The generosity of donors all over the world – including Best Buy – makes this place run, and you can tell that the people who work here believe in the vision of St. Jude.”
Bright light of Best Buy
Despite a swift progression of his symptoms, Mike continued to work at Best Buy and spent every minute he could with his family. The Gleason family saw the company as a bright light in a dark time.
“Mike understood from the beginning of his ordeal that he and his wife and children had the total support of his Best Buy team. We saw firsthand just how much Best Buy cares about its employees and we will be forever grateful.” said Pat Gleason, Joe and Mike’s mom. “My wish is that no other family ever has to experience cancer the way we did. I am so proud to watch Joe work toward that goal every day.”
Each holiday season, Best Buy partners with St. Jude for the Thanks and Giving® campaign, welcoming customers to support the hospital’s mission through donating in stores and online. Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from individual contributors and companies like Best Buy, St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most – saving kids regardless of their financial situation and ensuring no family ever receives a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food. For more information about giving to St. Jude at Best Buy, click here.