Vail Valley nurse Susan Carole Bloomer Kanne honored by friends
A celebration of life for Susan Carole Bloomer Kanne is set for Saturday, May 6, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Brush Creek Pavilion in Eagle. The event is a potluck, so bring a dish to share. In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to the American Cancer Society or the Eagle County Red Ribbon Project.
EAGLE COUNTY — Walk into Vail Valley Medical Center and ask just about anyone if they know Susan Kanne. You’re likely to get a questioning look. Now try “Bloomer.” You’ll get a very different reaction.
Kanne was known throughout the medical center by her maiden name, Bloomer, which seems to describe her personality and outlook on life. And that’s how she’ll be referred to through the rest of this story.
Bloomer died April 16, a victim of a glioblastoma, a fast-moving brain cancer. Her death was a loss to co-workers, her family and friends — and just about everybody was her friend.
“She’s really missed,” said Dr. Thos Evans, of the Steadman Clinic. “She had a sort of self-deprecating sense of humor that made everyone smile and laugh. She was a kind, gentle-natured person.”
A recent phone call to a nursing colleague, Jen Manley, quickly turned into a speakerphone exchange with three nurses — Manley, Rachel Blackwell and Sharon Granzo — on one end.
“She made every patient and staff member feel great,” Granzo said. “Patients loved her. … She could turn around a stressed patient, or doctor.”
Bonding with little brother
Bloomer’s personality developed at a young age. She was the oldest of three siblings. Tom Bloomer, the youngest of the Bloomers, said he doesn’t remember a lot about his oldest sister growing up, since she was seven years his elder. But Tom and his oldest sister forged a strong bond as adults.
After several years in the Marine Corps, Tom transferred to the Air Force and returned to stateside duty in the family’s home town of Baltimore. Bloomer’s house was closer to her brother’s workplace than his own home, so Tom spent a lot of nights at his sister’s place.
Bloomer was a home-care nurse then, with patients in some of Baltimore’s roughest neighborhoods. Often, she’d ask her brother to keep his uniform on and ride along.
On those rides, the siblings talked about everything under the sun and listened to music. And it was music — of all kinds, but especially the blues — that really forged the bonds between them.
After Tom’s last overseas deployment, he was diagnosed with leukemia. His oldest sister was a bone marrow match and quickly volunteered to donate some to her baby brother.
“She’s given me life, and I couldn’t do anything for her,” Tom said. “That’s why this has been really, really hard for me.”
‘Let me do laundry’
Bloomer’s giving spirit could be something big, such as a bone marrow donation, or a small favor, such as helping a friend’s family do laundry.
Blackwell recalled that her daughter got sick once when she and Bloomer were working opposite shifts at the medical center. Learning about the child’s illness, Bloomer immediately said, “Let me come to your house and do some laundry.”
Blackwell and Bloomer got to know each other better when Bloomer was teaching nursing classes at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge.
“She came and stayed with my family,” Blackwell said. “In a day, they were all best friends. … We should all be lucky enough to know someone like Bloomer.”
That giving touch extended far beyond the nursing station.
“She knew all the housekeepers, the people in the cafeteria, everybody, by name,” Manley said. “She’d slip people little gifts all the time.”
Bloomer’s spirit — and voice — is still alive at the medical center.
“Multiple people have saved her voice mails,” Blackwell said. One of those messages is just an out-of-the-blue thank-you to someone “just for being the great person you are.”
Bloomer was also an outstanding nurse, Granzo said.
“All the surgeons have a high regard for her,” Granzo said. “They really did appreciate her as a person and a nurse.”
Evans said Bloomer’s spirit and skills were a valuable part of the medical center.
“We’re all better for the time we had with her,” he said. “She’s really missed — it’s been hard for all of us. She’ll be remembered here.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.