Stories: Susan

Susan Tusa

“I’m just so grateful Swedish is here.”

You could say Susan Tusa’s inspiration for giving dates back more than a century.

Susan’s father was born here in 1913. As the story goes, his nurses said he was the most beautiful baby ever born at Swedish. Then a few years later, Susan’s grandfather was seriously injured in a logging accident on the Olympic Peninsula. He and his family traveled by boat for two days just to ensure he was treated at Swedish. He wasn’t expected to survive, but with our help, Susan’s grandfather recovered and lived well into his 80s.

Flash forward twenty years, when Susan’s mother, a registered nurse at Swedish, gave birth to Susan. Her father always bragged that Susan was cared for by four registered nurses (her mother and three of her mother’s colleagues, all of whom remained lifelong friends).

In 2007, Susan’s younger brother was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer. “My brother was treated at the Swedish Cancer Institute for more than a decade,” says Susan. “It was remarkable that he lived for so many years with his type of cancer. The care was excellent. We knew he was getting the very best.”

What stands out to Susan the most is the compassionate, comprehensive care her brother received—from psychiatric care that addressed his mental health needs, to our leading-edge treatments and exceptional medical teams, to the caring support of our social workers.

“When one therapy was no longer effective, there was always another new one for him to try,” Susan adds. “There was never any question that he would get whatever treatment was available. The doctors and nurses were all so kind and responsive.”

The extraordinary care her brother received inspired Susan to give back. “I wanted to honor my brother’s memory and the two oncologists who treated him—and help ensure others receive the same outstanding care,” shares Susan. “Growing up in my family there was value instilled in us about the importance of contributing to the community—whether monetarily or through community service.”

Susan says she never considered taking her brother to any other place. “The doctors and the nurses were so good in communicating with him and treating him with respect. They never gave up, even arranging in his last year of life to have a registered nurse visit once or twice a week so he could stay in his own home until he died.”

In the last few years, both Susan and her husband have experienced the same level of extraordinary care. “When I found out I had to have surgery, I immediately wanted my care at Swedish,” shares Susan. “My husband felt the same way when he needed his gall bladder removed. Everything is first-class, and everyone very caring.”

Thanks to supporters like Susan and her family, our patients have access to innovative, compassionate health care at Swedish.

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