When Susan Greene received her diagnosis of lung cancer seven years ago, she set some goals for herself: Finish raising her daughter and receive her 30-year service pin in recognition of her career as a nurse at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center.
“It may seem like a silly thing — to want a pin — but it isn’t,” said Greene, who became too ill to work in November and is now in hospice care. “Lahey has taught me so much — to be devoted to not just yourself but to the people you work with and those we take care of. I’ve got another family here at Lahey.”
Greene’s “work family” is equally devoted to her. As Greene’s health declined, the entire staff of the urology department – where she worked for 15 years – has stepped up to care for their treasured colleague, offering the kind of loving support, comfort and care only a true family can provide.
Last summer, several co-workers started a tradition of visiting Greene at her home every Friday night for wine, cheese and crackers. When Greene’s husband passed away in 2015 from lung cancer and she, also sick with the same condition (neither had ever smoked), could no longer live alone safely, her colleagues arranged for her to move from her home in New Hampshire to Woburn, Mass. Urology nurse manager Judy Mooney, who lives nearby, made multiple house calls in the middle of the night.
Each morning, Greene is visited by longtime co-worker Bonney Myles, who stops by on her way to work to chat and help get Greene ready for the day.
“We talk about everything that friends talk about – our kids, families, the news” said Myles. “And never once has she said ‘Why me?’ Throughout her illness, it is Sue who has been the strong one.”
When it became unclear if Greene would be able to attend the service awards dinner, held annually in October, her colleagues immediately ordered a 30-year service pin. Urology’s Service Line Director Deanna Walsh, who worked with Greene for 29 of Susan’s 30 years at Lahey, and Myles presented her with the pin on March 7 at a tear-filled ceremony in her hospice facility.
“It has been my great honor to be a nursing colleague of yours,” Walsh said during the ceremony. “You are the epitome of the nursing profession and have been an exceptional mentor and resource for our nurses.”
Greene listened, received her pin and tears filled her eyes.
“I made it to 30 years, and the tribute they gave me means so much to me inside,” said Greene. “For me, being a nurse was all about caring. I always tried to see everyone I interacted with not as a patient or colleague, but a person. That really makes a difference.”