Cancer Center Staff Send Gifts to Colleagues’ Marine Son in Kuwait

Jeannine and Mark Sudol

During their two decades as Dana-Farber nurses, Jeannine Sudol, RN, and Mary Delaney, RN, have watched each other’s children grow up through stories, photos, and the occasional visit. So when Delaney heard this spring that Sudol’s son, Dean, was being deployed to Kuwait with the Marines, she acted right away.

After confirming what could be sent to military personnel overseas, she told fellow nurses in the  infusion clinic where she and Sudol work that she was starting a gift drive for Dean and his unit. What Delaney didn’t anticipate was how many others  would want to contribute – including doctors, nurse practitioners, technicians, pharmacists, and support staff.

“We filled 17 boxes with everything from deodorant to snacks to games,” says Delaney. “People wrote wonderful notes, too, and I made sure to put one in each box. One nurse practitioner had two young sons who played lacrosse, like Dean, so they sent a photo of themselves with their sticks and inscribed it, ‘Thanks Dean, from lax bros like you.’”

The gesture profoundly moved Sudol and her husband, Mark Sudol, RpH, an infusion pharmacy manager at Dana-Farber. Mark joined DFCI in 1987 just after Jeannine, and the couple met, married, and raised Dean, 22, and his younger sisters Erica and Rachel while DFCI colleagues. Dana-Farber has become their second family, but the outpouring of generosity still touched them deeply.

“It was an overwhelming and amazing surprise,” says Jeannine Sudol. “Perhaps they felt they wanted to help us and say thank you to someone serving their country at the same time.”

Adds Mark Sudol, “It was heartwarming and a wonderful show of support from everyone. For so long everyone here allowed Dean to grow up with them, which made them all feel connected to him – and appreciative of what he’s doing.”

When it came time to send the packages, coworkers came through again. Delaney’s brother, a postal employee, recommended fixed-rate shipping to the California military base where the gifts would be readied for sending overseas. The fixed rate, however, is $16.75 a box.

“I sent around an email asking if anyone could help with the postal costs,” says Delaney. “Within five minutes a pharmacist came to me with a wad full of cash from the Pharmacy staff. It was all the money we needed.”

Because Dean’s unit is often on patrol, Jeannine and Mark only have sporadic conversations with their son. On Father’s Day, he told them he has already received several of the packages, which he and his unit especially appreciate while stationed in barren, 113-degree oil fields. Dean also said he looks forward to coming home in October – when his deployment is completed – to personally thank his Dana-Farber family.