Susie Mouzakis

March 9, 2023
A photo of Susie Mouzakis
Susie Mouzakis. Photo by UCHealth.

Improving lives, returning kindness amid cancer battle

Susie Mouzakis works full-time, Monday through Friday, as a senior patient access representative at UCHealth Internal Medicine – Snow Mesa in Fort Collins. Some days are longer than others, as she makes time for chemotherapy to treat stage 4 cancer.

“She’s one of the most kind-hearted people you’ll ever meet,” said her daughter-in-law, Guadalupe Mouzakis, pharmacy intern at UCHealth Greeley Hospital. “She’s one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. It’s unfortunate that she has to go through this.”

Last year, after the cancer was found to have metastasized, Susie’s colleagues welcomed her back to work in “Team Susie” T-shirts. They presented her a large basket of goodies with fuzzy blankets, socks, creams and aromatics. The following Monday, she returned the kindness with pastries, coffee, bowls of fruit and a little sign that read, “Good vibes only.”

“I wanted them to feel my appreciation,” Susie said.

She joined UCHealth in fall 2020 after moving from southern California to be closer to family. Her son served in the U.S. Marines and had recently returned to Colorado from Afghanistan; he returns to Africa for a second time in May. He and her daughter accompany Susie to all her infusion appointments.

Susie was diagnosed with cancer before she moved and, at times, adjusting to her new home was challenging.

“I feel like I’m a positive person, and that’s why I’ve done so well,” she said, adding that, in addition to the continuous support she receives from her family, her colleagues regularly make a difference. “Sometimes they’ll come up and ask, ‘How are you feeling today?’ It makes you feel cared for. I have so much appreciation for my co-workers’ support and work environment, and I enjoy going to work each day.”

Aware that Susie was immunocompromised during the COVID-19 pandemic, co-workers helped set up her desk with protective paneling in a socially-distanced location. Mary Jo Murray, patient access lead with the clinic, said Susie’s attitude amazes her.

“Susie comes to work every day, even though a lot of the days are a struggle for her, and she never lets on that she’s having a rough day,” Murray said. “She goes above and beyond to help our patients and her co-workers.”

Susie Mouzakis, second from left, pictured with family members and Colorado Eagles player Luke Martin (left).
Susie Mouzakis, second from left, pictured with family members and Colorado Eagles player Luke Martin (left). Photo by Michelle Wells.

In January, Susie was honored at the Colorado Eagles’ Hockey Fights Cancer game after she was nominated by a radiology tech at the UCHealth Harmony Cancer Center. She went with family members, and among them were her grandchildren, as well as Guadalupe and her son and daughter. Afterward, they were invited to the rink to paint the ice with names of their loved ones affected by cancer.

“My grandson is 8, and I didn’t know if he knew I had cancer, because I wouldn’t want to put that burden on my young grandchildren,” Susie said. “He said, ‘I don’t know whose name I’m gonna write.’ I said, ‘You can write my name.’ So he did, and it was really cute.”

Susie Mouzakis, pictured with family members and Colorado Eagles player Luke Martin.
Susie Mouzakis, pictured with family members and Colorado Eagles player Luke Martin. Photo by Ashley Potts.

Guadalupe plans to graduate as a pharmacist in May from the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and she’s preparing for her residency; her husband, a pilot, is preparing to become a commercial pilot within a year. She said Susie pitches in to support them, including picking up their son from day care.

“We love her very much, and we appreciate everything she’s done for her family,” she said.

Mary Riley, manager of clinic operations, said Susie is willing to help anyone.

“She has never once complained about her situation or diagnosis and is always worried her appointments will impact her team,” Riley said. “Susie is about the kindest, sweetest, most gracious person I have ever met.”

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About the author

Robert Allen loves meeting new people and learning their stories, and he's continually inspired by the patients, staff and providers he meets at UCHealth.

A journalist for 12 years, he joined UCHealth after reporting and editing at the Detroit Free Press. He is the author of Fading Ads of Detroit, a book exploring connections between classic Detroit brands found on ghost signs and in the personal histories of Detroit residents. He previously reported for the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Summit Daily News and Montrose Daily Press.

His outdoor adventures include scrambling summits, hunting powder stashes via snowboard and rafting whitewater. He earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from Oklahoma State University and MBA from Colorado State University. He lives in Windsor with his wife, Rachel, and their obstinate pug, Darla.