Winchester Colleagues Walk for Cancer Patients

Got Hope team knows the importance of helping

It’s tough to miss the colorful outfits and the percussive jingle of tambourines as the Got Hope team walks the Lahey Cancer Institute 5K Walk & Run course in Burlington every year.

“We like being loud,” team captain Sue Sheehan, RN, confessed with a laugh.

Got Hope is made up entirely of colleagues from the Winchester Hospital Center for Cancer Care. After Winchester became part of Lahey Health (now Beth Israel Lahey Health) in 2014, the oncology crew knew they wanted to help raise money for patients by being part of the 5K.

The members of Got Hope knew they needed to stand out. “We had some lovely tiaras from the dollar store,” Sue said. “We had some boas and our Got Hope signs. We want people to know we’re here for the walk and we’ve got hope.”

Money from the 5K pays for acupuncture and massage programs to help patients relax and to relieve pain during their treatments. The funds also help patients in need with the day-to-day costs they incur during their treatments.

“We all got together and raised money in any way we could,” said Julie Pizzano, a prior authorization specialist at Winchester Hospital. “We haunted people left and right.” But asking people for money and dressing up wasn’t enough to provide all of those services.

Stepping forward

Surprisingly enough, inspiration for their main fundraiser came from a supermarket checkout line. “You see a lot of stores selling sneakers for different charities and we basically stole that idea,” Sue chuckled. The team started selling $5 paper sneakers on which people could write the names of loved ones or a caregiver who made a difference for them. The staff post the sneakers on a large board behind the cancer center’s reception desk for all to see.

Everyone who works at Winchester knows that when they hear the sound of a bell ringing, another sneaker has been sold. The administrative assistants on the front lines will usually hit the bell once or twice. “Some of us are more enthusiastic with the bell ringing than others,” said admin Lydia Stanley as she hit the bell several times.

“We want to help our patients”

Ringing the bell and raising money for a good cause are fun for Lydia and the team. But behind the laughter, there is empathy for the patients and families who are going through such a difficult time.

“For me personally, I had my grandmother pass away from cancer, and I see the importance of helping,” Lydia said. “It’s my way of taking the time out to listen to that person’s story, to make sure that they know that they’re appreciated. And we’re able to do that here.”

For Sue, seeing her team put in so much work selling sneakers, planning fundraisers, and making signs and costumes, is touching. “It makes me really proud of the people I work with,” she said. “We all work here because we want to help people in one way or another. Whether you’re an admin, a nurse or a pharmacist, we’re all here because we want to help our patients.”

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