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.

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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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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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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Sun, 02/08/2009
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Suzanne Lewandowski

Eating Disorders Advocate; Massachusetts Unsung Heroine Award 2009
The word bulimia hadn’t even, well I’m sure it existed, but it had never been in the public eye. My eating disorder started in January of 1974, at least the bulimia did. It was in the 80’s when I first heard the word -- when I realized that I was not the only one in the world that had this horrible problem. But by then it was so enmeshed in my everyday living, that I couldn’t stop and I stopped trying to stop.
Suzanne Lewandowski was born in Patterson, New Jersey and moved to Massachusetts in 1979 when she was about 25. Lewandowski attended Butler University and received her BA in interior design. She started working towards her Master’s in Education at Assumption College in 2004, and will complete her education in the next few years.  Lewandowski is also taking courses at Plymouth State University through a certified program at the Eating Disorders Institute of Plymouth State University.
Interview Date: 
Tue, 11/10/2009
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Amy Szarkowski

Psychologist working with deaf children

I’m not yet an expert at sign language, I hope to be, but not yet.  I want to continue learning and improve my signing skills. But compared to most psychologists in the Massachusetts area, other places as well, I know a lot about the deaf community, and when other psychologists are dealing with deaf children it can be dangerous not to know anything about the community.  Because it’s possible that they could refer them to the wrong person, or give them the wrong recommendation, they may blame the deafness for their problems when really it’s a totally separate issue.

Amy Szarkowski was born in South Dakota and moved to Oregon when she was ten. She majored in psychology at Southern Oregon State University, earned her master’s degree at Eastern Kentucky University, and attended Gallaudet University as a hearing minority. Currently she is a psychology fellow working in a deaf and hard of hearing program at a children’s hospital. In this interview, Amy describes her passion for teaching and helping deaf children as a psychologist and a teacher.

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Tue, 04/08/2008
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Tina Rumrill

Resident of Great Brook Valley
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Fri, 02/27/2009
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Lori Connolly

Occupational Therapist, Member of Central Mass Families Organizing for Change

I have a lot of responsibilities. My daughter, one of my daughters has cerebral palsy. And, so, she requires a lot of attention and time because she can’t do things herself, that at four and half, almost five years old, she should be able to do. She’s come a long way, from where she was, but she still needs help, you know, most of the time. She can get herself dressed but she still needs help sometimes, not so much with feeding but getting on the toilet, getting off the toilet. Brushing her teeth, putting on her shoes, putting on her socks and walking. I may come home and work with her for a couple hours, spend a little time with Emily, her sister. Or have Emily do the exercises with us. Most of my time is either working, doing Meghan’s therapy, taking care of the kids, cleaning the house -- which is low on the priority list, to be honest with you -- and researching online, all the time, to see what’s out there. You know, like going into a chat room. I belong to a chat room for people who have CP (cerebral palsy). Could be adults, kids, parents. I spend a lot of time on there just kinda figuring out what is out there for people.

Lori Connolly was born in 1975 and is married with two daughters. She earned her degree from Worcester State with a major in Occupational Therapy and a certificate in Gerontology. In this interview, she talks about the differences between her growing up years in Worcester and her children’s as far as freedom to play outside or walk in the neighborhood; caring for her two daughters, one of whom has cerebral palsy; and her work as an OT. She also shares memories of what was fashionable during her teenage years and of Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger tragedy.

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Sat, 02/28/2009
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Kate Saba

Fitness Trainer, Nursing Student
I just remember crying in the middle of the parking lot telling my mom I was going to get on the plane and come home. And she was like, 'Well you gotta figure yourself out.' And I mean I really thought it was the end of the world. And it’s not. Nothing is as bad as it seems, and everything gets better. So if I hadn’t had a mom to push me and say you are not coming home right away, I wouldn’t have done anything in my life.
Katherine Mary Saba was born in Shrewsbury, MA, in 1984. She is one of three girls in her family, falling at the end of the birth order spectrum. In this interview she discusses the personal devastating impact of an eating disorder and depression. She shares her thoughts about moving to Los Angeles following her graduation from Worcester State College. She describes her fears about living alone in a large, fast-paced city and credits her mother with support and encouragement.   Kate's goal is to combine her love for physical fitness with a degree in nursing.
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Mon, 03/30/2009
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