MSK Nurse Dedicated To Serving the Underserved

MSK nurse Margaret Bediones

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center nurse Margaret Bediones is passionate about working at the MSK Ralph Lauren Center in Harlem.

For nurse Margaret Bediones, RN, taking care of people extends far beyond the walls of the MSK Ralph Lauren Center (RLC) — part of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) — in Harlem. Margaret is committed to improving the health of people from underserved areas across New York City. She has become a fixture at MSK community events, having volunteered at more than 30 over the past two years.

Her passion for helping people stems from a promise she made to herself when she was a young girl.

Honoring Her Father’s Legacy

Margaret was born in the Philippines and is the oldest of six children. When she was 12 years old, her father experienced severe shortness of breath and was diagnosed with cancer of the spleen, which metastasized (or spread) to his lungs. Sadly, he passed away a few months later.

Margaret was devastated. “I couldn’t do anything to help my father, who was gone so quickly when I was so young,” Margaret says. “After his death, I made a promise to take care of others in every way that I can and decided to become a nurse.”

Her passion for helping the underserved in particular began while she was studying for her degree in nursing.

“Part of our training focused on community outreach, where we would go to remote areas with limited — or even no — access to clinics. The nearest community hospital was miles away,” Margaret says. “So we set up a clinic in the town hall with one of our doctors and offered medical care to the community, which included checking vital signs and blood sugar levels, providing wound care at times, and giving the residents appropriate referrals. We also offered education on hygiene, nutrition, vaccinations, and dental care.”

Margaret Bediones, RN, volunteering

Margaret is an avid volunteer and loves doing outreach, especially in underserved communities.

Great Medical Care in Harlem

Margaret lives near the MSK Ralph Lauren Center, where she has worked for 14 years. When MSK took over operations at RLC in 2019, she was excited to join a team passionate about the mission and the quality of care provided to patients.

Margaret joined a special nursing task force on community outreach, seizing an opportunity to connect with more people and do volunteer work.

“I love talking to people to educate them about the importance of cancer prevention and screening,” Margaret says. “It’s a rewarding feeling when I see the people that I talk to in the field come to the clinic. We have all these resources at MSK RLC, and I want people to take advantage of them.”

Margaret even posts MSK pamphlets in the lobby of her apartment building in Harlem. “I want the community to know about the great medical care that’s just a stone’s throw away,” she says.

We have all these resources at MSK RLC, and I want people to take advantage of them.
Margaret Bediones, RN

‘Meant To Help People’

Margaret is also devoted to her church and volunteers in the gift shop. She’s always ready to help her fellow parishioners. “I once cared for a woman who was diabetic and fainted in my church,” Margaret recalls. “Once you’re a nurse, you’re a nurse wherever you are.”

Margaret’s advocacy turned deeply personal when she was reunited with her uncle who lived in Texas. She noticed he was very thin and suggested he be screened for cancer, including having a colonoscopy. Unfortunately, the tests found stage 4 gastric (stomach) cancer.

“It was too late for him to get chemotherapy, but he was able to return to the Philippines and spend Christmas with his family before he passed away,” Margaret says. “If I hadn’t advocated for him to check on his health, he probably would not have made it home for Christmas. For me, it was another sign. I firmly believe I’m meant to help people.”