Health

This topic focuses on the ways women negotiate their physical and emotional well-being both in their personal and family lives and in relation to the public institutions that make up our health care system. It seeks to learn about how women view, care for, and project their bodies and minds introspectively and in relation to the outside world.

Cathy Sessions

Marketing Director, Notre Dame Health Care

I know so many people define success monetarily and if you reach a certain status. That isn’t my definition of success and it's interesting in this class [Zen class] the first day, the first class, this is one of the questions that we were to ponder for the Zen and what makes a successful day for you, what makes a good day and so I’ve been pondering the question. For me it is when I go home feeling good, when I know that I’ve made a difference.  It can be the smallest of interactions, but you know that interaction made a difference in someone’s life.  I would say that is my definition of success and being a good person, being proud of the decisions you’ve made and ethical stances you’ve taken, and so that’s how I would define it.  I feel like I’ve done that.  I’ve lived a good life and I’ve treated people well. 

Cathy Sessions describes attending St. Lawrence University and being on the first women’s ice hockey team and then attending Boston University to earn a master’s in social work with a specialization in gerontology.  She also discusses her interest in alternative medicine and competitive sports.  She talks about her career path and her current position as Marketing Director at Notre Dame Health Care as well as her views on aging and success.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 10/21/2014
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Marianne Felice

Chair of Pediatrics, UMass Medical School

And I think of the department that I ran as a garden...I think of all the faculty that I’ve recruited as a flower. I could have had all roses…real flashy, but they have thorns, roses do. So you can have all tulips, but I think of the faculty in the department as a different kind of flower. Some need lots of sunshine, some need lots of water, some are going to be okay with benign neglect. They don’t even need you.

Dr. Marianne Elizabeth Felice was born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania in 1943 and works at UMass Medical School in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. She and her husband, John Giles, moved to Shrewsbury in 1998 when Marianne was offered the chair of pediatrics. Marianne has devoted her time to her job, advocacy efforts, and her husband. Networks of women have played an important role in her life and experiences, and she continues to value these relationships today. In this interview, Marianne reflects upon the struggles and joys of her life and experiences within the medical field.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 04/04/2013
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Sharon McLaughlin

Owner, College Admissions Counseling Business

I love doing what I do because I get to meet with students and talk to them about what their career goals and college plans are—help them find the college that they’re going to be comfortable at and help them be able to afford it. You know talk them into different scenarios and help them along the way. It’s nice to see kids go and really kind of blossom in college. You know, the ones that the parents worry about, “He or she is too shy to do this” or not going to adjust well to living out of state or taking care of themselves and they come back in December and say, “I can’t believe what a different kid this is” [laughter]. So, that’s where I get my fulfillment.

Sharon McLaughlin was born in 1958 in Worcester, MA and attended Burncoat Senior High School. Her father was a professor at Worcester State College and her mother a homemaker. Sharon runs her own college admissions consulting business which was inspired through her father’s love of education along with her own passionate interest in adult education. In this interview, Sharon discusses some of the struggles she encountered in her career and personal life. She gives insight on finding what you love to do and the emotional adversity she has faced with an ill boyfriend and aging parents.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 03/16/2012
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Lisa A. Raymon

Salon Owner, Mother of three

Well, as a child I was always kind of sickly. They never knew why and all these weird things were wrong with me. My breast bone stuck out my, you know, my feet were flat, I was always having rashes. All different kinds of stuff and [I] always would catch everything blowing in the wind. When I was pregnant with my son, my sister read an article about a condition called Marfan Syndrome, which is a connective tissue disorder. And every characteristic they talked about she said, “Well that sounds like Lisa.” So in a little bold print: "people with full blown Marfan Syndrome should be careful when they give birth.” Apparently, your aorta could burst and you would be dead, if you had an unchecked heart defect. Well I was in with the cardiologist seven and one half months pregnant and yes I do have it by the way. And basically what it is, any part of your body that has connected tissue is affected, it just depends on how severe.

Lisa Raymon was born in Brighton, Massachusetts in 1966. She was a diligent worker growing up, and always had a job. She looked up to her godmother and married young to Charles W. Harris, Jr. She had three children and came to Worcester five years ago. She struggled with her marriage, which eventually ended in divorce. Trying to generate money as a single mother was rough for her. This resulted in her opening a hair salon on West Boylston Street in Worcester. At the salon, she met close friends and learned valuable business skills.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 03/16/2012
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Carol A. Pappas

College Librarian

When I was in school, you were either a teacher or a nurse and that’s pretty much it, that’s all there was. Now what can’t you do? You can go into anything, medicine, architecture… My little granddaughter, she’s only 3 now, so she can be anything she wants to be, and that’s really good.

Carol Pappas is from Southbridge, Massachusetts. Carol was born in 1947 and was raised by hard-working parents. She currently lives in Leicester, a suburb fifteen minutes away from the city of Worcester, near to her son, youngest sister, and grandchildren. Carol works in the Assumption College’s library as an Acquisitions Coordinator. She earned a degree in teaching French, History, and English at Bridgewater University.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 04/19/2012
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Cherylann Holman

YMCA worker, runner

I’m on the running team at the Y. I’ve been on the running team for—well they started in, when Worcester first had—Worcester has had a half marathon take place in June and it’s now coming into its third year. So I’ve been on the running team for a couple of years now. We trained specifically for that first half-marathon. And other than—I don’t have anything specific that I must do. I enjoy spending time with my friends. So, there’s a lot of—I love social activity and being around people with the same common interests. So I relish the relationships that I have and having relationships, it’s a lot of work. It’s maintaining those friendships through good and bad and it’s a two-way street.

Cherylann Holman was born on Belmont Hill in Worcester in 1969. She attended Belmont Hill Elementary, Worcester East Middle, and Fanning Trade School where she studied to become a hairdresser. She married after high school and had her two sons, Tyler and Nicholas. After divorcing her husband she was a single-parent to her sons who were four and six. She worked at an insurance company, now known as Hanover Insurance, for 19 years. She then attended the Salter School and received her medical assistant certification and worked in the medical oncology department at St. Vincent’s Hospital.

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Interview Date: 
Sat, 01/14/2012
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Wilma Sanchez

Licensed Addiction Drug Counselor

I love what I do. I just have a passion. I don’t know, I guess God knew what He was doing. I have a passion and a way of talking to people that motivates them. I’ve been pretty good. I have had some sad stories, people that go back out and they usually get to me. But I don’t give up. They didn’t give up on me, why should I give up on them? What you’ve heard is just a partial part of my story and my life. It’s no story, it’s my life, reality. Sometimes it makes me sad, but it makes me happy to know where I’m at today. My goal now is to write a book.

Wilma Sanchez was born in Puerto Rico where she lived with her father’s family until the age of six. At that time she began living with her mother and she describes episodes of neglect and sexual abuse. In this interview Wilma explains how she began using drugs, became involved with men who sold drugs, had two sons, was diagnosed HIV positive, and had a relationship with a female friend. Eventually her drug habit led her to prostitution and a jail sentence. Wilma entered a drug treatment program and overcame her drug habit.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 03/24/2011
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Lynda Young

Pediatrician; President-Elect, Massachusetts Medical Society

I had 105 classmates, six of us were women. And I distinctly remember the interview where I was told that they did not like to admit women because they just got married, had a family, and quit. And that’s what I was told by the dean of the medical school.

Lynda Young was born in in 1947 in Buffalo, New York where she grew up with her parents and older sister. She learned to play the flute and her love of music was inspired by her mother who was a piano teacher. She graduated from State University of New York Buffalo and went on to medical school at SUNY Buffalo Medical School where she was one of six women in a class of 105. In this interview, Dr.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 01/13/2011
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Pat Masiello

Administrative Assistant, Assumption College

She had two little kids.  And she happened to call me one day and said, “I seem to be having some kind of hemorrhage here.”  Anyway, you go to your gynecologist and they tend to pooh-pooh, you know, our female problems – “Oh, just go home and we’ll see how this goes.”  Well, it didn’t go well. She was 34. Her children were six and nine, just six and nine. And all the time this ends up being a serious problem.  She had cervical cancer.And through many operations, chemo, and radiation and all that, it just wasn’t working.  And at that time, I was taking the kids ‘cause her husband has to work. I tried to visit every single day, sometimes twice a day because after a while, after the operations and -- she wound up being at a nursing home. She went in around Thanksgiving and never came out. February -- she died on February 2nd.

Pat Masiello was born in 1937 in Worcester, Massachusetts where she grew up with her parents and siblings. She attended Dix Street School and Commerce High School and she describes playing in Institute Park, Elm Park, and the Worcester Art Museum. After high school she worked at Massachusetts Protective Association, later Paul Revere Insurance. She married at the age of 20 and when she was five and a half months pregnant with her first child she had to leave her employment.

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Interview Date: 
Thu, 02/24/2011
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Anne Milkowski

Special Education Teacher, Occupational Therapist, Cancer Survivor

It forced me to save heavily for my daughter’s college because I wasn’t sure if I’d be there to pay for it and I saved less for my own retirement because at that time I wasn’t expected to have one. So it affected me that way. I think I was more…it was stronger at first, that I would hear people talking about silly things like a bad hair day, and if you’ve been bald you never have a bad hair day again. If you have hair, it’s a pretty good day. A few times people made strange comments to me about “Oh, well, you’d just be happy to be here,” whereas they think they are entitled to some other level of activity and happiness, so that was always strange. For a few years you are very afraid to make plans for  fear that the cancer is going to come back and its going to be more heartbreaking because you can’t live up to your plans. But as time went on, I started to look more towards the future, get less afraid of planning.

Anne Milkowski was born in Worcester, and grew up in Whitinsville Massachusetts with her divorced mother. When her parents remarried, she moved to Falmouth, Cape Cod. She went to the University of New Hampshire for the Occupational Therapy program, and traveled around the country for her internships. She worked at a variety of facilities until getting her master’s degree in special education while living in Illinois. She moved back to Massachusetts when she was 30 and eventually got a job as a special education physical education teacher and OT in a vocational high school.

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Interview Date: 
Sun, 02/08/2009
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