Chemotherapy & Oncology Patient Stories
Chemotherapy…Close to Home
Kay Gies is currently celebrating her 21st Anniversary of being cancer free. In 1994, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 rectal cancer after having a colonoscopy.
She remembers getting the call from her doctor. He said, “Kay, there’s no easy way to say this. You have cancer and we have to do surgery to find out exactly what is there.”
Kay decided to have surgery at the Richland Hospital. “I wanted to be close to home and be taken care of by people I knew. I didn’t want to go to a big hospital and be another number,” she said.
The surgery revealed that Kay had late stage 3 colorectal cancer and that it had spread to her lymph nodes. “I had a colostomy and it saved my life,” she said.
Following surgery, Kay had 31 radiation treatments in Madison, WI. She asked her oncologist if it was possible to have her chemotherapy at the Richland Hospital. He said it was and after a two-week rest period, Kay began her year of chemotherapy at the Richland Hospital. “My daughter, Tina, was my rock through it all,” she said.
“I had all but three of my chemotherapy treatments here with my chemo angels,” she said. “The care I received here was wonderful. I am still friends today with many of the nurses who helped me. They always went the extra mile to keep my veins from wearing out.”
Kay made it through all her chemotherapy treatments without a port. Her last one was October 11, 1995. After that, she had a strict schedule of colonoscopies to keep an eye on things. For the first year and a half, Kay had colonoscopies every 3 months. Then, once a year after that for a while. Now, she has colonoscopies every three years.
“We are very fortunate to have our hospital. I had exceptional care at the Richland Hospital,” Kay said. “Thank goodness for the people at the Richland Hospital.”
Annual Screenings Meant Early Detection for Doris Triphan
Because of her family history, Doris Triphan was faithful in getting her annual mammogram screening at the Richland Hospital. Marsha Jones is the hospital’s Certified Mammography Technician and she took Doris’s mammogram earlier this year.
“Marsha saw something in my mammogram and decided to take an additional picture,” Doris said. When doctors analyzed the mammogram, Doris was sent to UW Hospital in Madison to get a diagnostic mammogram. There they found a mass in her breast. “Marsha saved my life by noticing the change and taking that extra picture,” Doris said.
Soon after finding the mass, Doris was scheduled for surgery. Her surgeon removed the mass, some surrounding tissue, and her two nearest lymph nodes. The cancer was identified as a fast growing, estrogen fed cancer.
Because of the type of cancer, Doris had the option of having her tissue sent to California for analysis in preparation for hormone therapy. After her chemotherapy treatments are complete, Doris will have 4 or 5 years of this hormone therapy. “There is always a chance of it coming back,” Doris said. “But the hormone therapy will improve my chances.”
With the speed at which the cancer grew in one year, she hesitates to think about what might have happened if she had missed her annual mammogram at the Richland Hospital.
“In 1978, my mother had breast cancer. She had her breast removed. At the time, there were not as many tests available and we didn’t know as much about cancer as we do today,” she said. “Later in life, she developed uterine cancer. She is the reason that I started getting my mammograms annually.”
Warmth & Compassion Leads to Great Care
Trish Dickinson said she thinks that her first reaction to the words “you have cancer” was fairly typical. “I had a ton of questions. What is the next step? Where can I go for help? Who can help me?” she said.
She is a chemotherapy patient at the Kraemer Center in the Richland Hospital. Her oncologist is Dr. Alcee Jumonville, an outreach specialist who sees patients in Richland Center. Dr. Jumonville is the head of oncology at Gundersen Lutheran in LaCrosse, WI. In addition to personally visiting the Richland Hospital to see patients, Dr. Jumonville is also available via video conferencing equipment made possible by Gundersen Lutheran. For Dickinson the time and money saved by traveling to Richland Center for oncology visits and chemotherapy is a big part of the initial reason she chose the Kraemer Center at the Richland Hospital.
As her chemotherapy treatments have progressed, however, she says that her decision to utilize the smaller, local hospital has resulted in great cancer care. “Today, you can go to many places to get plugged in for chemotherapy,” Dickinson remarked. “At the Richland Hospital I have received the most loving, nurturing and understanding care I could ever ask for.” According to her, the comfort level she has with the staff was established early in the process because of the combination of compassion and knowledge they bring to their jobs.
“Everyone in the chemotherapy center has had specialized training in dealing with cancer. Their level of training and expertise in combination with their warmth and compassion is what allows them to provide great care,” Dickinson said. “As a patient it is so evident that the nurses love their jobs. For all of them, it looks to be a calling to care.”
“I have been a member of this community all of my life. When I went through chemotherapy, I could not have asked for better care than I received at the Richland Hospital. These were the best bunch of gals and they did an awful good job of taking care of me, we even had a lot of fun.
I was able to receive all my healthcare in one spot and was able to continue my work while receiving chemotherapy. Even though this was a difficult time, I received support from the staff at the Richland Hospital and from friends that were receiving chemotherapy at the same time.”
Meet an Oncology Nurse
Hello I’m Jane Shannon, a nurse in the Kraemer Center and Richland Hospital outpatient unit. When asked what I like the most about my job, I would have to say the small size of the hospital and community. I specialize in chemotherapy, but in helping other departments, I am able to keep my skills fresh in things like O.B. and E.R.
A benefit of working at the Richland Hospital is helping people that I know. One moment I might be caring for my third grade teacher and the next moment I could be caring for the family member of someone my daughter went to third grade with.
These past 20 years have gone by very fast and I look forward to the next 20 years of caring for you and your loved ones at the Richland Hospital.