A jingle with meaning

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:32 pm

Talk about making sweet lemonade from a bunch of rotten lemons. Several years ago, Sue Northey, a successful and energetic Milwaukee advertising executive was diagnosed at the age of 40 with Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer in the body’s lymphatic system. When she told her bosses at the Cramer-Krasselt ad agency the bad news, she was relieved to learn they would be very supportive.
"They told me to take care of myself first and work when I could," Northey recalls.
Happily, the doctors at the Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital and the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center successfully utilized chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and the cancer was in remission 10 months later.
Northey has been healthy and strong ever since.
During and after her treatments, she remained positive and productive with the help of her doctors, nurses, family, religion and coworkers. So much so, that she was promoted last year to senior vice president/managing group director of the agency’s brand planning department.
In her management capacity, Northey she guides her staff in strategic planning and market research for the agency’s clients.
"We help them get a competitive edge in their positioning and packaging," she says.
Northey’s coworkers describe her as "exceptional and inspirational" in her efforts to maintain a high level of professionalism.
In addition to her managerial duties at Cramer-Krasselt, she headed a highly successful Take Your Child to Work program.
She also was the recipient of the southeastern Wisconsin chapter of The Association for Women in Communications (AWC) Leading Change Award. The award recognized her work in "championing the advancement of women in the field of communication, encouraging community involvement and her ongoing commitment to excellence."
Despite long hours spent at a demanding job, Northey has devoted her spare time to writing and community projects.
Last year, she compiled her personal experiences into a published book, "On the Other Side: the Journey of a Cancer Survivor." She completed and published a second book, "Pilgrim Prayers by People Living With Cancer," this year.
Northey has started working on a third book, based on the writing classes she taught last year at Froedtert and the Medical College’s Small Stones Resource Center. Northey taught Small Stones clients how to chronicle their life experiences as part of their healing process.
Northey has even managed to find the time to do community work, serving on advisory committees at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the Froedtert Hospital Foundation. She has served on the marketing committee for Gilda’s Club of Southeastern Wisconsin. For the Franklin Public School District, she co-chaired a committee to create a master communications plan, trained the faculty on facilitating focus groups, taught marketing and entrepreneurship classes and participated in Career Day.
So, where has she found the energy, love and motivation to do all of these worthwhile projects?
"Attitude is everything," Northey says. "That’s especially true for cancer patients, where the power of positive thinking can play such an important role in beating the disease."
When she first came down with her illness, Northey says, she started "a spiritual, emotional and physical journey that tested my physical limits, strengthened my faith and occupied every waking minute of my thoughts every day."
Her positive attitude was nourished by her family, as well as her working environment.
"My husband, parents and three children buoyed my spirits each and every day and helped me realize that I shouldn’t take life too seriously," she says.
Northey says her religious faith also helped.
"I learned that my faith was a trusted companion. Prayer never failed to provide me with sense of calmness. When I prayed for relief from pain, I found I was better able to cope with what I had been asked to carry," she says.
She acknowledges that battling cancer isn’t easy.
"But it was not without its triumphs. It has defined who and what I am," she says.
Northey believes that the human spirit "is vital and indomitable," and she has learned that she must take care of her needs first, because she can’t be at her best without a healthy and strong mind and body.
"There are things that I learned that have transformed me for the rest of my life."
December 17, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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