Greater Baltimore Medical Center
"Compassionate, Loving and Concerned Care"

Hugh McKenna's Story

Told by Susann McKenna


It seems that the older we get, the more we seem to pick up the habit that we thought was ridiculous when we were young. The habit? Starting each day with the newspaper and reading the obits. We are looking for friends, loved ones, former classmates or working associates, etc. At that time, I don’t think we put much thought into having to write one ourselves for a loved one. That, sadly, is what I had to do recently as my husband of 40 plus years died in September. In fact, as I look at a calendar, in a few weeks, it will be our 48th wedding anniversary.

So, as you will read, even though I have wonderful and loving memories of the staff of GBMC, not every story, particularly in a hospital, has a happy ending. Mine definitely does not, as my husband died after spending several days and weeks at GBMC over a four-year period. The last was 32 days at GBMC and seven days in Gilchrist.

Actually, my husband’s story (our family’s GBMC story), began over four years ago when he was first diagnosed with tongue cancer. It started with the staff at the Milton J. Dance, Jr., Head and Neck Center. We received exceptional care through counseling, education, home health care coordination, support groups, professional voice and nutritional care, head and neck cancer care, interdisciplinary patient care conferences and more. Every step of the way, my husband and I experienced compassion, loving and concerned care from GBMC staff and volunteers in a healing, supportive environment.

My husband’s next steps were with an extremely professional, knowledgeable and compassionate medical oncologist and radiologist and their staff members. Their treatments over several months gave my husband positive results as his cancer went into remission. Throughout the next two years, they were always available to listen and respond to our cares and concerns and to continually follow-up.

Then, unfortunately, the cancer returned and metastasized to my husband’s lungs. Our next step was to see a doctor who specialized in diagnostic radiology, and then the staff within interventional radiology. The procedures did work, but, unfortunately, my husband got more cancerous tumors. As I indicated before, after 32 days at GBMC and seven days in Gilchrist, my husband died.

While I am always saddened that my husband is deceased, not a day goes by that I don't think of and pray for him and to him. I also pray that God will bless other families in similar situations at GBMC, that they also will be blessed with the care, concern and genuine love of the staff at GBMC.

I'm a volunteer at GBMC. I can't begin to explain my humility and the grace-filling experience I have knowing I'm doing some small things for those who are ill and thus more vulnerable at this time in their lives.

Life goes on; it has to go on even when you lose a loved one. That experience gives you time to reflect on the past, of course, but more importantly on the present and the future. What can your experiences do to make those with whom you come in contact better? What joys, love and blessings can you share with others that will make your spouse ever present to you and to them?

I show that love by giving my time to the folks who enter GBMC, the patients, family members and staff that I help. How do I spell LOVE? G-B-M-C!!

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