MGHers share their Valentine’s Day love stories featuring the people and pets that bring them joy, who make them smile and who make their lives happier and healthier on a daily basis. 


The biggest love in my life is my son, Riley John, 21 months. When I come home from a day at work, he greets me with a huge grin and that makes every day better.
— Amanda Griffin, Translational & Clinical Research Center

Two years ago I adopted a cat, Squeaky, that was born with only three legs. Her disability doesn’t slow her down. She is the boss in the house. Her antics with my dog and my other cat put a smile on my face. She is very affectionate and loves to cuddle. She has brought so much joy to my family, she’s our little love.
— Loralee Farewell-Charros, Blood Transfusion Service

I always know I will have a fun and inspiring day when my fellow researchers are here – Trine Grodum Eskesen, left, and Jae Moo Lee, right. My work life would not be the same without them!
— Josefine Baekgaard, Trauma, Emergency Surgery and Surgical Critical Care 


Yvonne Dello Russo brings me and others joy every week! Yvonne has been a volunteer at the Blood Donor Center for more than 20 years. Each week she greets us with a big smile, a cheery hello and one of her famous and fabulous hugs! Somehow the day is a little easier when Yvonne is here.
— Kim Cronin, Donor Services

Samuel Alexander in the 125 Nashua Street Café makes me smile at breakfast or lunch no matter how bad of a day I am having. He also makes the best chocolate milk for me – I don’t like the carton chocolate milk so he makes it for me with skim milk and lots of Hershey’s syrup. I also love how he calls all the women “my lady.” He is a true gentleman who always puts a smile on my face!
— Lauren Dagnese, Development 

Denny is my adorable 13 1/2-year-old Yorkie who always makes me smile, cheers me when I’m feeling down, is always glad to see me even if I am in a bit of a “mood” and can even elevate my blood pressure if it gets too low! He is very crafty – looks around the floor for items he should not have, like coins, paper wrappers, or whatever he can find, and holds whatever it is in his mouth until an exchange is agreed upon – a biscuit perhaps. He prefers Poland Spring to tap water, warm, freshly laundered sheets, playing with his squeaky toys, kisses, hugs and belly rubs! His dislikes: vet visits, baths and thunder.
— Debra Dorry, Orthopaedics

Angela Pan is the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful person you would ever want to meet and her smile is just so infectious! She works as a supervisor at Coffee South in the early morning, Riverside at lunch and then back to close Coffee South. When she worked in the office she would come in and her smile just changed everything. She brought so much joy and laughter to this office that I nicknamed her sunshine. No matter what the day would bring – rain, snow, whatever – she always stayed positive and happy. Angela is always smiling, and if you don’t believe me, visit Coffee South or Riverside and I’ll bet no matter what kind of day she is having, she is smiling!
— Cheryl Lawless, Nutrition and Food Services

My dad used to say, “If you love what you do, you never have to work a day of your life.” What makes me smile, and keeps me happy is coming to a place every day that I know makes a difference in the world. The MGH has been part of my family for more than 30 years – my mom is a volunteer and works at the front desk and the staff who work with her are like our family. The MGH also was part of the happiest day of my life – the Gift Shop created the flower arrangements for my wedding. My friends said to me, ‘I can’t believe how happy your florists are for you, they gave you a hug when they dropped off the flowers.’ They are more than florists; they are part of my life, my community. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to walk the halls of the MGH with some of the most amazing people and only hope that I bring as much joy to their lives as they bring to mine.
— Krista McCabe Cruz, Development

I am lucky enough to fall in love and get my heart broken dozens of times a year. I am a foster mom to homeless dogs with Last Hope K9 Rescue. Having these rescue dogs in my life brings me indescribable joy. I get to watch them come off transport as insecure, timid animals, then slowly blossom into happy, playful dogs. Sometimes this transformation takes minutes, sometimes weeks, sometimes months, but the happiness you feel when your foster dog plays or takes a deep, relaxed sigh for the first time is one of the best feelings. Out of my 30 something foster dogs over the past four years, I have loved and learned something from each and every one of them. At the end of the day, I remind myself they are making another person or family whole, and I have more dogs to save. Someday I hope to adopt a pit bull I can train to be a therapy dog, one that will be able to help me break down stereotypes while also bringing joy to those who need it most. Until then, I’ll keep falling in love just to get my heart broken.
— Jillian Monahan, Human Resources

The ‘love in my life’ is my most beloved Welsh terrier, Tango-Raffles. I look forward to seeing him when I return home from work every evening, and I always enjoy his quiet yet cheerful company when I read, study, meditate, cook, fold laundry or sleep. He always understands my moods, and knows the daily rhythm of my life intimately. My life would be plain and dull without the joy of Tango-Raffles’ company and comfort.
— Liang Yap, PhD, Neurology

On June 8, 2016 I left my house, kissing my husband Kam goodbye and telling him to have a good day. I went to the Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Evaluation Center only to be told that I was a week early for my mammogram appointment. The girl at the desk couldn’t have been nicer and said they could see me that day. A few hours later my cell rang: I was diagnosed with breast cancer the next day. Kam has been to every chemo appointment, most of my doctor appointments and was by my side when I stayed in the hospital. The diagnosis and treatment has been the most difficult challenge I have been through, and Kam helps me with the kids, cooking the meals and shopping. He has even tried his hand at doing laundry. When we see all the hearts for Valentine’s Day, I am going to think of and be thankful for my husband and my amazing family, but most of all for the compassionate, amazing team I have at the Cancer Center. This is the true meaning of love – the kindness and caring I received at every appointment, surgery and chemotherapy visit.
— Kathy Bazazi, Images Oncology Boutique

The love in my life is my little 8-year-old cousin JoJo. The amount of love, joy and happiness he brings me is more than anything I can ask for. Every day he feels the need to call me to find out exactly what I am doing, and to find out tomorrow’s agenda. If he cannot get hold of me, he turns into FBI junior and calls everyone he can think of to help find me. I appreciate those calls as he finds out how work was, what I did at the gym today and making sure I am home safely. JoJo has taught me to have more empathy, compassion and understanding for patients while working here at MGH. He is my biggest motivator to succeed in life, and I know that I must lead a positive path for him. For him, I will always have that unconditional love, like he does for me.
— Bianca Peixoto, Department of Medicine

Sandra Marotta, of the Center for Quality and Safety, is always helpful and very aware of others’ needs. I remember the day of my job interview she was waiting by the elevators for me. I thought I was just lucky to catch her and she was able to show me to where I needed to be. But then I came to learn that she did that for everyone. In helping to schedule meetings she is very aware of everyone’s schedules, including those who could not come in early or others that could not stay late. Sandy goes above and beyond for everyone.
— Maryellen O’Dea, Center for Quality and Safety

Having grown up watching Disney cartoons of Cinderella and the many Hollywood movies about love, I had a narrow understanding of what is it to love or to be loved. Love is a simple concept yet complex in meaning and understanding.

Mine is not a love story but one about love.

It is a story about a friend, an individual with charisma, a contagious energy and a magnetically positive personality. He wore a smile every time I saw him even on the long stressful days at work. He always stopped to say hello, crack a joke and inquire on how my day was going. I had only known him for a short while before he became ill. As a researcher, I knew his situation was terminal and had little to no better outcome. As a friend, I remained hopeful that his doctors could figure out a way to get him better and back to his normal routine. Even as his health continued to deteriorate, he managed to smile, tell jokes and also share his deep thoughts about life, love and family.

From his uplifting spirit, compassion and love, are so many lessons I have learned. I came to understand that love goes beyond what has been shown in Hollywood movies. It goes beyond the dictionary definition of the intense feeling of deep affection. I now understand that love is less of a feeling and more of an action. I find that love is better when shown rather than uttered. To truly love is to fully commit myself without reservation to the act of love. To love is to show compassion when not expected, to help without being requested, to show kindness to strangers and friends alike when not required and to forgive when it seems impossible. With my friend now gone, the life stories he shared with me will continue to live on. It is easier to love than hate, better to forgive than resent and simpler to let go than hold on; his recipe to a happier life. To give love is to receive joy, peace and so much more. Knowing this now, I feel happier and at peace.

And so this Valentines, in memory of my friend, I choose love.
— Dorothy Ndishabandi, Department of Pathology

Read more articles from the 02/10/17 Hotline issue.