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2023 Salute to Nurses Letters: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Alexandria Cabral Carter, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

On the morning of the Feb. 25 nor’easter, Alexandria drove over three hours to care for her patients (including me) at Dana-Farber’s Chestnut Hill location. I was anxious because it was my first chemotherapy treatment, and my husband and I worried we wouldn’t be able to get to the facility, much less expect nurses to be there. Alexandria demonstrated extraordinary commitment, compassion, and expertise to oversee my treatment — not just that day, but also over the months ahead, protecting me from a potentially fatal allergic response and encouraging me to keep the faith. She gave me the strength to stay positive. Her reliability was critical, assuring me that she would be there regardless of the obstacles in our path, and her loving compassion healed the emotional pain of an individual who is fighting cancer. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Alexandria. – Nominated by Patricia Gray

Meghan Cifrino, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

I met Meghan the day I began chemotherapy and radiation for brain cancer, four years ago. She was a constant support for me and my wife over the next 14 months, helping me adjust to the chemo and performing many more acts of kindness. She’s an amazing professional. Two-plus years after completing chemo, Meghan continues to be a rock for us. Her support is a big part of why I’m still here, and I am forever grateful. – Nominated by Christopher Barnett

Mary Delaney, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

My mother has been Mary’s patient many times over the years, but the visit that first comes to mind was on Sept. 18, 2009, when my oldest daughter was born. My mother couldn’t be there for her birth because she was at Dana-Farber. Mary was her nurse that day, consoling her and celebrating with her. They bonded over the years, and I remember my mom saying how careful Mary always was with her medicine and how she went out of her way to check on my mom and make her feel comfortable, even when my mother wasn’t part of her official case load for that day. I don’t have the words to express how much her caring meant and continues to mean to my mother, but I am so thankful. – Nominated by April Spelbrink

Megan English, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Megan has been with me through my four-year cancer journey. She knows all my anxiety triggers and quirks, and how to distract me from them. I feel so at ease knowing she will be taking care of me. Even though my doctor moved to the Chestnut Hill location, I still go to the Yawkey Center for Cancer Care just to have treatments with Megan as my nurse. She’s kind, compassionate, funny, and the best nurse anyone could have. I’m so thankful for her care and friendship. – Nominated by Jessica Culley-Kozens

Smiling nurse with shoulder length brown bob wearing a lab coat over a swirly red patterned blouse and a rainbow lanyard around her neck.
Tina Flaherty

Tina Flaherty, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Tina Flaherty is incredible. I have cancer, and she’s been a nurse practitioner since 2016. Cancer is a difficult situation to stay on top of, yet she’s done so without difficulty. The new therapy she recently ordered for me will keep me out of trouble, hopefully, for years. It’s really a miracle. Tina has always been there for me, no matter what. I cannot say enough about her caring and compassion. I’ve never felt alone or troubled by her medical plan. Thank goodness for practitioners like Tina. – Nominated by Mark Schulthess

Taylor Grimshaw, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

At 39 years old, I was on my third chemo infusion for stage four lymphoma and scared out of my mind due to significant side effects from the previous two treatments. In walks my new nurse, Taylor — my guardian angel. She has a warm smile, the patience of a saint, a positive sense of humor, and such tricks to make me comfortable as ice during the red devil chemo, gum during the nasty flush, etc. Words can’t express what she means to me and my family. She gave me hope and the will to go on. Thank you, Taylor. – Nominated by Jennifer Fletcher

Older nurse with short graying blond hair wearing black-framed glasses and a fuchsia shirt underneath a lab coat.
Carolyn Goldhammer

Carolyn Goldhammer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Carolyn has been my wife’s nurse for the last several years and makes her twice-weekly treatments a pleasant experience. She is truly a great, dedicated professional. – Nominated by Joe Manfredi

Anne Gray, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Anne was my mother’s infusion nurse during her treatment for extensive stage small cell lung cancer. We began this journey with many questions and fears. Anne answered our questions and helped to calm us. She took an interest in Mom’s life outside of the cancer center and in our families as well. We both looked forward to treatment days so that we could catch up with Anne and share stories and pictures of what had gone on between treatments. Anne is always a step ahead of the game and so proficient in her field. She’s ready for anything and has a great working relationship with her co-workers. She always has a smile to make her patients feel at ease. 

When Mom’s oncology department changed floors, she was transitioned to a new, equally wonderful team of nurses. We no longer see Anne every month, but when we do run into her at the elevator or in the cafeteria, she always greets Mom with a big smile and a hug. We never thought we would look forward to going for treatment, but it’s honestly become the best part of our month. Anne and the staff have become like an extended family to us. We feel extremely blessed to have Dana-Farber and their incredible staff on our side as mom fights lung cancer. – Nominated by Hillary Fortin

Blond nurse with rosy face wearing a silver necklace and a black zip-up fleece emblazoned with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute logo.
Kathleen Kiley

Kathleen Kiley, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Kathleen has been my infusion nurse on many visits. She knows me very well and always takes great care of me. She’s concerned about my cancer treatment and is always available to help me through the process. Her tremendous experience really reassures me. There’s never a glitch in the process, and if there is any problem, she addresses it. I always feel better when I see her and would miss her if I didn’t. – Nominated by Mark Schulthess

Colleen Lortie, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

I was going through treatment at the beginning of the COVID pandemic in 2020, when no caregivers were allowed to accompany patients for their appointments. I was lucky enough to have Colleen as my infusion nurse. She sat by my side and kept me company. She felt more like a friend than a nurse! We talked about our love for “The Office,” Lady Gaga, the 1975, and more. I’ll never forget how Colleen made some of the hardest times of my life a little more bearable. I can’t thank her enough. – Nominated by Emma Eafrati

Jennifer McKenna, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in June 2021. I met Jenn during my first visit to Dana-Farber to begin my treatment with Dr. Eric Winer. It was incredibly reassuring to see how warmly, efficiently, and compassionately Dr. Winer and his trusted colleague Jenn interacted. It gave me confidence that I was in good hands. Dr. Winer has since left Dana-Farber Cancer, but Jenn remains the nurse practitioner on my oncology team, and her kindness, keen insights, and encouraging, positive, but honest take on my circumstances have never wavered. 

One of the special things about her that is terribly important to my treatment and well-being is her unfailing reliability. If I contact her by email or phone, she never fails to answer within 24 hours. This makes my life less frustrating, and surprises me in such a big, busy institution as Dana-Farber. I don’t know how she manages to stay on top of my concerns in addition to those of all her other patients, but she does. When I get sad and worried, she comforts me with her calm, unflappable message of why hope is reasonable, and patiently reminds me yet again that they have many, many ways to treat my disease — even if she told me the same thing the last time I saw her, she never gets impatient. Jenn encourages me to live my best life, such as indulging my love of travel (as my health allows, of course) rather than sitting at home “just in case” something should happen. She gives me courage and confidence. I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have Jenn in my corner as I journey through this mysterious and difficult part of my life. Things can always change, but I hope she will be with me a long time, and in the meantime, I have benefited immeasurably by her care during this most challenging disease. – Nominated by Nina Huber

Josie Montegaard, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

As a long-term patient at Dana-Farber’s Lymphoma division, I’ve been seeing Josie for many years, and have always felt that I’m her most important patient, even though she carries a heavy patient load. She has always been patient and tolerant, caring, understanding, and reassuring when I have concerns, and she is a knowledgeable and confident clinician. Josie always advocates for me, as she did when I experienced a cardiac side effect from one of my trial drugs. Josie set me up immediately with the Dana-Farber onco-cardiologist. Her quick response and advocacy meant that a silent cardiac issue was found before it became a major issue. As the cardiologist said, they don’t often get to practice preventative medicine, and I was extremely fortunate that Josie was proactive. Josie knows the stress her patients feel while awaiting test results and responds quickly to my questions or concerns on the portal. 

A hero is admired by many people for doing something good and noble. Josie is a hero in my ongoing fight against this treatable but incurable form of leukemia, and I am most fortunate to have her on my team. – Nominated by Cathy Ferguson

Nicole Quigley, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Right from the start of my chemo treatment, Nicole was caring, friendly, compassionate, and very professional. I felt I was in the best hands when she was taking care of me. – Nominated by Janeth Aguilera

Helene White, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Helene has been my infusion nurse at Dana-Farber in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton for over five years. Not only is she a true professional and skilled clinician; she is a warm and loving person. Helene doesn’t just treat me; she cares and listens to me. Her fellow nurses provided the same type of care and concern. They work together to provide quality patient care. Helene interacts on a personal level as well. She’s interested in the whole person and knows where to buy the best ham at the best price. Of course, I’m here for cancer treatment. Helene and the nursing team took the time to explore the issues of treatments, side effects, worries, and anxieties in a very kind and human way. The team’s support and encouragement were invaluable in providing a sense of self-esteem and recovery. – Nominated by Mary Jo Perry

Editors: Spence & Sanders Communications, LLC.

This content was produced by Boston Globe Media's Studio/B in collaboration with the advertiser. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its production or display.