Facilitating hope: Celebrating Michael Rockwood, an Unsung Hero of Dana-Farber

In 1992, when working as a contractor for T.E. Andresen Moving & Storage, Michael Rockwood was sent to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to cover for an injured coworker. He never left.

Michael Rockwood

Michael recalls witnessing the compassionate care at Dana-Farber and thinking it was something he needed to be a part of. When both his brother-in-law and sister-in-law were diagnosed with cancer—passing away only two days apart—Michael was even more determined to help prevent others from experiencing a similar loss. He was soon hired as a full-time staff member in Dana-Farber’s Facilities Department, becoming an integral part of the Institute’s day-to-day operations for the past 30 years.

On a typical day, you’ll find Michael moving furniture between offices, delivering lab equipment, stocking supplies, and rearranging artwork on the Longwood campus and at Dana-Farber’s community locations. Michael also serves as a backup driver for the Mammography and Blum Resource vans, interacting with patients and helping underserved communities access preventative health care services. During the holidays, he is responsible for brightening the campus with holiday decorations and each year, he sets up Dana-Farber’s staff flu clinic. The COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges, as his focus shifted to safety measures like positioning socially distanced seating and organizing coronavirus testing and vaccine sites.

“My job is to make it easier for my colleagues to do their jobs,” Michael explains. “There are times when emergencies come up and your scope of the day changes completely, but you still have to find a way to finish the mission.”

Michael Rockwood

Michael’s favorite part of his job is assisting the Jimmy Fund Clinic with its summer and winter festivals for pediatric patients. “Seeing the children having a good time and enjoying themselves is life-changing.”

He is hopeful that sometime in the near future, there will be cures for cancer and that perhaps in some small way, he will have played a part. In the meantime, his motivation for coming to work each day is seeing patients with smiles on their faces. “If they can deal with cancer, I can do my best to make this the best place for them to come for care.”

Thank you to Michael for all he does to support Dana-Farber’s mission to defy cancer, and to Arbella Insurance Group for recognizing Unsung Heroes like Michael, who work behind-the-scenes to create a safe, comfortable, and dependable environment for patients, medical staff, and researchers.

Be an Unsung Hero for patients at Dana-Farber by donating to the Jimmy Fund today. Eligible Massachusetts donors who give $50 or more may save 6% on their Arbella auto policy. We encourage you to contact your local Massachusetts auto insurance agent for more details.

Your donations are part of The Dana-Farber Campaign, our ambitious, multi-year fundraising effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. The Dana-Farber Campaign will accelerate the Institute’s strategic priorities by supporting revolutionary science, extraordinary care, and exceptional expertise. As a community, we have the power to create a more hopeful, cancer-free future—in Boston and around the world. Together, we can defy cancer at every turn. Learn more about The Dana-Farber Campaign at DefyCancer.org.