Susan is a member of the Integrative Medicine Program providing holistic nursing care to our patients both in-house and in the Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center.
Susan began her journey in healthcare here, at NWH, proudly wearing the peach-colored jacket as a volunteer. That experience led her to the realization that "being in service to others" was what brought her great joy and personal satisfaction. Susan embraced the nursing profession and went on to obtain a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing and her Board Certification in medical/surgical nursing.
Her clinical skills are extensive. In addition to medical/surgical nursing, Susan has delivered patient care in a variety of settings including orthopedics, transitional care, oncology, home health, and Hospice. The consummate professional, colleagues find her well organized, thorough, and very detailed oriented. Her dedication to excellence led Susan to obtain her certification in Oncology massage (yes she is also an LMT) and this past October she received her board certification in Holistic Nursing. In January 2020, she will receive her Master's in Education. Then I think we need to send her on a vacation.
Should you be lucky enough to have Susan as your nurse, no stones will be left unturned. She will have a complete understanding of the details of your condition, your medications and your plan of care. She will advocate for you and will reach out to members of the interdisciplinary team for additional measures to support your healing process.
That said, there is much more to being an Extraordinary Nurse than knowledge of anatomy, pathophysiology or pharmacology. Extraordinary Nurses bring a depth of caring and compassion to the bedside that goes far beyond science. Extraordinary Nurses never fail to connect with the human spirit that lies within each of us. Susan Balamaci is one of those Extraordinary Nurses. She sees a person's spirit first, their humanness, and their vulnerability in a time of need. Susan greets that spirit with an embrace of loving-kindness that lingers long after the treatments and hospitalization have ended. Maya Angelou's quote "I learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" captures the essence of Susan.
Her innate ability for empathy and compassion extends beyond her treatment room. It is second nature for Susan to go above and beyond the call of duty. So, it wasn't unusual that after completing a full workday, Susan intuitively went to the Infusion Center and sat with a distraught, anxious patient who was receiving an infusion of chemotherapy. This patient's cancer had returned and this time it was invasive and aggressive. Susan could have simply driven home, but instinctively, she went upstairs to be of service. As she sat with this patient and family member, Susan was their port in the storm, a hand to hold steady, a calming presence to ground them. Because, as simple as it sounds, that is what an Extraordinary Nurse does.
Cancer patients, cancer survivors, and cancer caregivers, looking for meaning, for support, camaraderie, and yes, joy, come in scores to Susan's Tuesday and Friday meditation classes and here, they have built a community filled with friendship, respite, and love. These classes, this hospital, has become a second home for many.
One meditation participant, too young to be dying of cancer, became too weak to continue coming to the classes. From home, the patient reached out to some members of the group and asked if they would come to his home and hold a meditation session there. The patient missed the group and the meditations had sustained this patient during the most difficult days of treatments and illness.
These members approached Susan and asked her to conduct the meditation as a healing service. Without hesitation, Susan was there, being of service. So on an evening after work, she went to this patient's home. Susan led the meditation and she then held that sacred space for the group, as members began speaking from their hearts, saying what needed to be said, reading poems and inspirational quotes. The patient found comfort and joy in the words spoken and in the company of friends. It was a joyful and healing celebration of life, love, and friends, a tender, loving, bittersweet moment in time.
For Susan, healing travels in her patients' hearts. Ms. Balamaci is a true example of an Extraordinary Nurse, a holistic nurse, an expert with a natural gift for touching the lives of others with compassion, meeting each patient exactly where they are at in the moment, never failing to address the needs of the body, the mind, the emotions, and the spirit to promote healing for the whole of the person.