Giving thanks to ‘Unsung Heroes’ during pandemic

During cancer treatment, many patients and their families recognize doctors and nurses as “heroes” throughout their treatment. But care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute extends far beyond the oncologist; it extends to the parking attendants, interpreters, cafeteria workers, and many others. And throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, these “unsung heroes” have played vital roles in providing safe, reliable, reassuring access to lifesaving care for patients during these unprecedented times.

Arbella Insurance Group, a longtime partner of Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund, understands the importance everyday kindness makes in helping patients through cancer treatment. That’s why, during this season of thanks—and throughout the year—they are helping the Jimmy Fund recognize some of the many Unsung Heroes of Dana-Farber.

These dedicated employees run the gamut from Interpreter Services to Nursing to Palliative Care. Learn more about our heroes and their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and be sure to spread kindness and generosity in your own community today and every day.


Carolina Olavarria is a Spanish medical interpreter and translator within Dana-Farber’s Interpreter Services department, which has more than 50 interpreters from different countries, races, and backgrounds who speak languages other than English. They are just one piece of Dana-Farber’s global community, helping to provide the best care and resources to patients, no matter their background.

During COVID-19, Carolina and her colleagues had to go virtual in a matter of hours—interpreting over the phone or through video conferencing.

“As interpreters, we build the bridge of communication between the medical team and their patients, and our role goes beyond that of interpreting word-for-word what is said during an appointment or encounter. We advocate, clarify, and serve as cultural brokers to help establish trust and transparency during critical moments,” Carolina explains. “We are doing our best to continue being that familiar voice and face to our patients.”


Emma Dann, DNP, RN, OCN, NEA-BC, came to Dana-Farber five years ago as the nurse director of the Institute’s Londonderry, New Hampshire location, later becoming associate chief nurse of the entire satellite network. Earlier this year, she joined Dana-Farber’s COVID-19 response team to provide clinical nursing oversight for Occupational Health Services, overseeing employee health screenings to ensure everyone at the Institute is cleared to be there.  

“When COVID-19 hit, we all had to be more collaborative,” she says. “Everyone at Dana-Farber has worked so hard—and continues to work hard—to get us through this pandemic. As stressful as COVID-19 has been, it brought us all together as one. We are stronger together, even when physically distanced.”


Prior to COVID-19, Jen Hedglin, RN, worked as a research nurse at Dana-Farber, helping patients on clinical trials manage their treatment. But with the onset of COVID-19, her role transitioned to a new shipping role with research oversite, to ensure patients from across the country would still be able to receive their investigational treatments, without having to come in person or delay treatment.

“We’ve never done shipped drugs in such large quantities,” she says. “We rolled out a new process with complete synchronization amongst all disease groups in just one week. I am proud to stand beside my peers and colleagues as we embark on a completely new remote healthcare system.”

“Our patient care is the utmost priority, and our vocation for our patients will never stop—not even for COVID-19,” Jen explains. “I am proud to say that I am a nurse at Dana-Farber.”


Rebecca Bruso, program administrator for Adult Palliative Care, triages patient phone calls, helps manage providers’ calendars, and handles scheduling for patients. COVID-19 rocked her department and how they worked, but they continued ensuring clinical providers were able to care for patients—remotely when needed—without having to worry about administrative needs.

“My job is to help make sure that each patient receives the timely care they need,” she says. “My role has morphed into one of a player and coach during the Super Bowl: Tensions are high, timing is everything, and every action counts. But we are all working together seamlessly to keep patient care the priority, while making sure every member of our team is also cared for.”

Be an Unsung Hero for patients at Dana-Farber by donating today. Eligible Massachusetts donors who give $50 or more may save 6% on their Arbella auto policy. We encourage you to contact your local Massachusetts auto insurance agent for more details.