Over the course of her 30-year career, Mary McDonough, BSN, MSN, displayed the true empathy of a skilled nurse in her care of men dealing with prostate cancer treatment
For these three decades, Mary was a nurse at Mass General, working mostly with oncology patients. She worked in the infusion unit for many years, and more recently had been the head nurse in the Urology Department. In addition to her wealth of knowledge and experience with cancer patients, she spent a large part of her time with individual patients and families going through prostate and kidney cancer surgery.
For men, prostate cancer is emotionally challenging not only because of the worries of cancer, but because of the impact on their quality of life and identity as men. Mary possessed a unique ability to connect with these aspects of the patient’s experience and put them at ease. She counseled them about the most intimate and sensitive aspects of their lives with complete openness. As a result, the patients were able to speak about their most private concerns, completely trusting that Mary would understand and help them cope with the changes and worries.
Chief of Urologic Oncology Douglas Dahl, MD, who worked with Mary for 15 years, can attest to her empathy and professionalism. “When Mary was not in clinic during follow ups, the patients always asked for her and were disappointed not to see her. She made such a strong and important connection with them during the most stressful time of their experience that they really appreciated and valued her caring support.”