South Shore Health RN is Red Sox Nurse Hero

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Susan Griffin
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South Shore Hospital Nurse Heather Reilly is named Nurse Hero by Red Sox
Heather Reilly, RN (left) and Lacey Rocha, RN (right) celebrate at Fenway Park

When Heather Reilly walked onto the infield at Fenway Park Wednesday night, she was there to represent everyday heroes. Reilly, an RN in South Shore Hospital's Critical Care Unit, was honored by the Red Sox, along with nine other colleagues from hospitals around Greater Boston as a 2019 Nurse Hero during the team's annual salute to nurses.

Reilly, who is a currently undergoing treatment for metastatic cancer and supporting her two sons while working full time, provides excellent care to her critically ill patients while maintaining a cheerful outlook, according to her colleagues.

“I can hear her laugh across the nurse’s station and it makes me smile,” says a South Shore Hospital nurse who nominated Reilly for the honor.

In late 2014, Reilly discovered a lump on her breast. She was diagnosed with cancer, underwent a double mastectomy, eight rounds of chemotherapy and 28 radiation treatments while continuing to care for her patients.

A few months ago, a friend noticed Reilly wasn't able to keep up with her regular routine at the gym. Testing revealed metastatic disease to her lung and abdomen. She is now undergoing state of the art treatment through a clinical trial at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. This spring, Reilly developed pneumonia. It was at this time that she received the good news that she'd been chosen to receive the Nurse Hero award.

“I was super shocked. I had no idea someone nominated me,” Reilly said.

“My colleagues are like my family and friends; I have been very close to them. They have been amazing throughout my diagnosis.”

Reilly says she feels great. “I forget that I have metastatic disease.” Her care is two-pronged, aimed at both building good DNA and shrinking the tumors in her lungs and abdomen.

“Heather comes to work each day, for 12 hour shifts, in a cheerful mood and does not look for special treatment,” said her nominator. “She offers to stay late, and finds it necessary to pick up extra shifts to stay ahead of her mounting medical bills, yet she never complains.”