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Navigating a difficult journey

​​​​​It was one of those phone calls that would change life forever. I will never forget that day. It was March 22, 2012 and I was in Arizona, thousands of miles from home.  My sister's voice was shaking, as she pulled herself together to tell me, "It's Mom… she has leukemia."

​Suddenly, my world came to a standstill. My mind was racing with a million questions and flood of emotions…I could hardly believe what I was hearing. 

My Mom and me. My Mom and me.
One would think that my 10 years of experience at Marshfield Clinic, working with so many cancer survivors and their families, would have helped prepare me for this situation. But nothing can prepare you for a diagnosis of cancer in your family. However, I did know there was help available for us.   

One of the first calls I made was to Mindy Gribble, Marshfield Clinic WINGS Cancer Survivor coordinator. Mindy brought an instant calmness to our situation. She provided practical suggestions to help us navigate through the first steps of Mom's journey. She knew exactly the type of questions we should ask. She validated our fears and walked me through the days ahead. 

My Mom and my daughter Sophia My Mom and my daughter Sophia
I knew my Mom would be in terrific hands with the oncology staff at Marshfield Clinic, under the care of Dr. William Hocking.  So many of our donors give in appreciation for the wonderful care they receive at the Clinic, and for patients of Dr. Hocking, I can see why. Dr. Hocking is remarkable. During those first difficult days, he was patient, caring and sincere. He spent hours of time meeting with us, talking through Mom's situation and answering question after question. 

Mom's prognosis was not great. And unfortunately, she spent nearly all of the next six months as an inpatient. During that time, Dr. Hocking continued to look at every possible option. He reviewed treatment options, clinical trials and consulted with leading cancer institutes around the nation. 

I have always felt so fortunate to work for Marshfield Clinic. But suddenly, I had an even greater appreciation. Medical research, cancer survivorship and cancer care weren't just things I discussed with donors and families. They were my life. 

In September, exactly 6 months to the day of that unforgettable phone call, my Mom lost her battle. She fought so hard, but unfortunately, that alone was not enough.   

I have always been passionate about my career, but my Mom's experience has changed me forever. 

When I talk to patients and families affected by cancer, I can empathize with their fears, understand their gratitude and appreciate their need for hope. I am dedicated to ensuring that medical research and needed programs, like WINGS, continue.

Thank you for joining me with your generous support.

 

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Teri Wilczek
Chief Development Officer
Marshfield Clinic