What is Infusion Therapy?

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Some drugs can’t be taken orally or lose effectiveness when exposed to the digestive system. Others must be delivered slowly or reach the bloodstream as quickly as possible in a life-threatening situation. Under these circumstances, infusion therapy is usually the best course of action. If you require insulin, fluids, chemotherapy drugs, or other IV-type medications, learn more about how infusion therapy works before your first treatment at Tri-County Health Care.

What is infusion therapy?

Infusion therapy, or IV therapy, is administering a drug intravenously. In other words, it involves injecting medication with a sterile needle or catheter inserted directly into a vein. The term also refers to drugs injected into the spinal cord, such as an epidural, or just under the skin, such as a subcutaneous insulin pump.

Common entry points for IV therapy include a vein in the crook of the arm or back of the hand. A surgically implanted catheter in the chest is another suitable entry point. An infusion therapy session may last less than one hour or up to three hours, depending on the drug and the treatment condition. In many cases, a bag or bottle containing the medication hangs from a nearby stand to ensure a controlled delivery rate. Drugs can also be administered manually with a syringe or infusion pump.

Who needs IV therapy?

In a hospital setting, IV therapy is effective when a patient cannot take oral medication. It’s also commonly used when intravenous delivery is more effective. When treating certain diseases and infections, therapy must continue after discharge from the hospital or may even initially begin as an outpatient treatment.

Here are several medications that infusion therapy can deliver and the conditions they treat:

  • Chemotherapy drugs treat cancer
  • Immune-suppressing drugs treat certain autoimmune diseases
  • Blood pressure support medication treats severe congestive heart failure that is unresponsive to conventional maintenance therapy
  • Thrombolytic drugs treat heart attacks or stroke
  • Fluids combat dehydration
  • Antibiotics, antifungals, and antivirals treat serious infections that don’t respond to oral medication
  • Narcotics control pain
  • Insulin treats diabetes
  • Epinephrine treats anaphylactic shock
  • Biologics treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Receptor blockers treat rheumatoid arthritis
  • Blood clotting factors treat hemophilia
  • Iron infusions combat iron deficiency
  • Medications treat migraines
  • Corticosteroids treat multiple sclerosis
  • Platelet-rich plasma treats osteoarthritis
  • Bisphosphonates treat osteoporosis
  • Donated blood facilitates blood transfusions

If you’re looking for infusion services, Tri-County Health Care can help! Our clinics feature an experienced team of registered nurses ready to administer your treatment in a private room with a cozy, home-like feel. Rest assured that we’ll make your time with us as pleasant and anxiety-free as possible. To learn more about our infusion therapy services, call 218-631-3510.


Surviving ovarian cancer

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At 31 years old, Kari Koshenina didn’t think she would have to worry about ovarian cancer. That is until she woke up in the middle of the night having a panic attack.

Ovarian Cancer Survivor, Kari and her two girls“My heart was racing. My head was jumbled,” she recalled of that night in 2018. “I thought, I’ll just go sit in the chair, calm down, watch some TV. About 45 minutes later, it wasn’t getting any better, so I was getting worried.”

Concerned for her two young girls – Laney, 3, and Elli, 7 – Kari decided to reach out for help. She called her mom, who came to take her to the ER while her dad stayed with the girls at her New York Mills home.

At the Tri-County Health Care ER, she was diagnosed with a panic attack and anxiety. The next week, she went to see her primary care physician, Bobbi Adams, M.D., for a follow-up. That’s when things took a turn.

Having been Kari’s primary physician for many years, Dr. Adams noticed she wasn’t acting like herself. She asked about Kari’s periods and learned they had been off lately.

Knowing Kari was typically spot-on timing-wise and was also prone to cysts, Dr. Adams sent her down for an ultrasound. It revealed a large cyst on her left ovary. Jennifer Arnhold, M.D., OB/GYN, took over from there and recommended Kari get an MRI.

It showed that the cyst was the size of a grapefruit.

Because it was so large, Dr. Arnhold referred Kari to Jessica Thomes Pepin, M.D., a gynecologic oncologist in the Cities.

“She looked at everything and said, ‘It’s not bad. You don’t have a history. Eighty-five percent of these I remove, they’re benign,’” Kari said. “But there was just something in me that was like, it is (cancer). I just know it is.”

Dr. Pepin operated to remove the cyst in June and sent it for a quick pathology. As she was finishing the surgery, she got a call with the pathology report.

It was ovarian cancer.

Starting treatment for ovarian cancerOvarian Cancer - Hair Loss Progression

Additional tests at the Mayo Clinic revealed the cyst was an aggressive form of ovarian cancer. Dr. Pepin recommended a full hysterectomy and chemotherapy. Kari agreed and underwent the surgery in July. Her port was placed at the beginning of August, and she began chemo at Tri-County in September.

“My experience with this hospital has been nothing but amazing,” Kari said. “My chemo nurses were amazing. I got sick one time with a really low blood count and had to stay in the hospital, and they came to visit me.”

One of the hardest parts of her treatment was losing her hair. She had planned to shave it, though, not before attending an upcoming wedding. But that’s when it started falling out.

“It was almost like having a really long-haired dog in my house. Every time I’d wake up in the morning, there’d be hair on my pillow,” she said. “I think that’s when it hit me because it was falling out in clumps and I was crying because I just wanted to go to this wedding and have hair because I didn’t want to explain it.”

Her sister, who is a hairstylist, helped to make her hair presentable for the event. After that, Kari was ready to say goodbye to her locks. She shaved it the next day with the help of her daughters.

Though her girls were young, Kari tried to keep them involved in other parts of her cancer journey, including bringing them to appointments and reading them a book called “Nowhere Hair” to help explain why Mommy’s hair was gone.

Kari credits her solid support system for helping her get through treatment.

Ovarian Cancer - Hair Regrow“My family and friends, they were all wonderful and could always talk me off of a ledge. It helped, but it was hard.”

The aftermath

Kari finished chemo in December of 2018. On the day of her last treatment, she rang a bell and made her way to the exit. She was met by nurses and other staff who clapped as she walked by.

As she reflects on how it all started, waking up in the middle of the night with a panic attack, Kari believes it was divine intervention and a dependable relationship with her primary provider that allowed them to find the disease so early, leading to her recovery.

“I believe in divine intervention because of how everything happened in the right way to get me to the right spot,” she said. “For me, there was no step that went wrong. Because if Dr. Adams would have looked at me and said, ‘Let’s wait six months and see if your periods even out and if this anxiety drops,’ I wouldn’t have ever questioned her.

“It’s huge to have a provider that knows you. That matters. If you have a really good primary who knows you and knows your history, that’s the way to go. That’s definitely where it all started.”

Kari knows it typically isn’t the case for people to find ovarian cancer in the early stages, so she encourages women to find a trusted primary provider and pay attention to their bodies.

“I wish there was a telltale sign,” she said. “Listen to your body. I didn’t have to advocate for myself because all of my doctors did, but if you feel like something’s wrong, advocate for yourself.”

Though it’s been almost a year since she finished treatment, Kari still feels the effects of the disease.

“I thought, I’m 31 years old, I’ll just get through that and then I’ll go on living my life. Not the case,” she said. “I get tired. I’m basically like a 62-year-old woman. Because my metabolism is shot. I Relay for Lifewas thrown into surgical menopause. I have to take calcium pills because when you go into menopause, you have a higher risk of osteoporosis. I’m just a little old lady. Now I’m 32, a birthday I was happy to see come around.”

Celebrating a new birthday and beating what is typically a deadly cancer ultimately helped her gain a new perspective on her life.

“There’s nothing like a disease that kills people to make you realize that you have to live your life. Since I got sick, I bought a house for me and the girls, and I got into a nursing program. There’s no time like the present to live your life.”

Checking in with Kari (June 2021)

Kari had her two-year scan in January 2021 which came back clear. She recently graduated from nursing school at Northwest Technical College. Since finishing chemotherapy, she has traveled to Punta Cana, New Orleans, Nashville, Deadwood and Ft. Lauderdale.

“I am feeling better every day and living my life with my two girls!” Kari said. “I am happy and grateful to be here and will never take life for granted again!”

Even though ovarian cancer is the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths in women, diagnosis rates over the past 20 years have been declining. Prevention is the key to continuing this trend, which is why September is designated as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. If you have concerns about any aspect of your health, contact your primary provider.

A message of hope for pancreatic cancer

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Pancreatic cancer is a difficult cancer to treat because it is hard to detect, and as a large portion of the U.S. population ages, it is on pace to become one of the deadliest.

Wadena-native Steve Nelson, who previously served on the Tri-County Health Care Board of Directors, is a recent survivor of pancreatic cancer. He has devoted his life to bringing his message of hope and awareness to people everywhere who are touched by this cancer.

 

A long history of cancer

Pancreatic Cancer - Steve (right) and Scott

Steve Nelson (right) with his brother, Scott.

Steve’s family history of cancer extends across multiple generations. His great-grandmother died from stomach cancer, his grandmother died from breast cancer, and his mother had breast cancer and passed away from ovarian cancer.

While she was fighting breast cancer, Steve’s mother decided to get genetically tested because of the cancer prevalence in their family. In 2002, she learned she was positive for a BRCA2 mutation. This mutation increases the risk of certain cancers such as breast, ovarian and prostate. And although it wasn’t yet confirmed at that time, pancreatic cancer was later linked to the BRCA mutation as well.

Because the mutation is hereditary, Steve and his seven siblings also decided to get tested. Five of them have the mutated gene, including Steve and his brother Scott.

Just two years later, Scott discovered he had pancreatic cancer. Thanks to a successful Whipple surgery and a clinical trial that used a chemotherapy treatment that matched well with his cancer, he is now cancer free.

“He’s a 15-year survivor,” Steve said. “Back when Scott had his surgery, there was a 4-percent chance he would survive five years. He is incredibly fortunate.”

Two years after that, Steve was diagnosed with prostate cancer but was able to beat it.

Steve and several siblings decided to enroll in the Cancer of the Pancreas Screening Study (CAPS) in 2009, which originated at Johns Hopkins University and was offered at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. CAPS is intended to provide regular screening for those who are at high risk for pancreatic cancer.

During Steve’s first screening, doctors found a neo-endocrine tumor and a small cyst in his pancreas.

“There was concern, but it didn’t necessarily indicate cancer,” he said.

Doctors continued monitoring Steve’s pancreas. Eventually, after seeing no change, they spaced out the frequency of his screenings to six months, a year, and finally two years.

However, in the spring of 2017, they noticed that his pancreatic duct had narrowed. They put in a stent and took a biopsy. “The surgeon told me, ‘Your cells are about to start something really bad,’” Steve said.

The surgical team removed two-thirds of his pancreas and several lymph nodes, taking the beginnings of cancer with it.

 

Pancreatic Cancer infographicThe need to be proactive

Recently, Steve joined the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) Survivor Council, which is made up of volunteers who share their experiences throughout the U.S. and provide a voice for other survivors.

“Initially, I felt guilt being called a survivor. I didn’t go through all the chemo, Whipple surgery and radiation,” Steve said.

While at one of his first fundraising events, when survivors were asked to be recognized on stage, Steve stayed put. “I said, ‘I’m not going up there.’ They grabbed me by the arm and said, ‘You’re the type of survivor we’re trying to get, one who was able to catch the cancer early.’”

Steve credits his survivor status to regular screenings and early detection. That’s why he has turned his attention to educating others about taking a proactive approach when it comes to their health. He believes that understanding and managing a person’s risk for pancreatic cancer is crucial.

“Many people don’t understand the need for the genetic testing and screening. They’d rather not know. They’re often afraid to find out,” Steve said. “My position is if you’re a first- or second-degree relative of someone who has had pancreatic cancer, you’ll be worried about a possible connection anyway. Why not grab this up front and understand your risk? If you’ve got a gene mutation, why not have doctors and scientists on your side? Why not have regular screenings? The reason I’m alive is because that’s what I did. I was proactive and dealt with the reality early on. Because of the genetic testing and screening, my cancer was discovered when it could be treated much more easily.”

 

A message of hope

“In two years, pancreatic cancer will be the second most deadly cancer in the U.S.,” Steve said, referencing the aging baby boomer generation as one of the primary factors. “Pancreatic cancer is diagnosed much less often than breast cancer, for example, but the mortality rate is much higher. There has been a major focus on prevention and fundraising for breast cancer for many years, and the results have been wonderful. Right now, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is 9 percent. That’s double what it was, but that’s terrible. A lot of work is being done to increase funding and early detection awareness, but there’s a long way to go.”

As representatives of PanCAN’s Minnesota affiliate, Steve and Scott have had the opportunity to share his story with healthcare professionals and members of Congress, advocating for more funding and education. Progress has been made, but the pressure for better patient outcomes will keep increasing as the baby boomer generation in the U.S. continues to age and become more at risk.

Both Steve and his brother meet often with individuals and families who have been affected by pancreatic cancer. Their primary focus is to help them through the treatment process. When Purple ribbon in woman hands, cancer awareness and prevention campaign.appropriate, they also share the value of using genetic testing and early detection methods such as regular screening.

The goal is to improve patient outcomes and bring them a message of hope.

Steve brings hope by telling his and Scott’s stories as survivors while driving home the importance of regular screenings. Research and treatment for pancreatic cancer has come a long way in 15 years, and when it’s found early, there are many more options, from surgery to clinical trials to targeted chemotherapy.

“I want to have hope resonate with the patients and their families,” Steve said. “There’s no reason to give up even if you have dire circumstances. I know many people who have defied the odds and gone on to lead a good life.

“As concerned as I was about my diagnosis, I never for one minute lost hope. Waging hope is what Scott and I do. And if we can share a bit of that with patients and their families, our work will have been a success.”

 

If you have a story to share about your own health journey or your experience with Tri-County Health Care, please tell us about it here.


Having faith in the midst of cancer

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When Gretchen Noon needs a peaceful place for rest and recovery, her quaint Wadena home serves as her sanctuary. Gentle music drifts across her covered porch strewn with several opened books and sentimental dragonfly decorations. The wind rustles the trees as she reads a hanging sign that says, “Having hope will give you courage. Having faith will give you strength.” Her soft hat wards off the chill, keeping her warm now that her hair is gone.

Breast cancer patient, Gretchen Noon sitting on her porch.Gretchen is currently battling a rare form of breast cancer and is braced for many months of aggressive treatment.

Discovering the disease

In July of 2017, Gretchen went in for her regular mammogram. It came back clear. But nine months later in April, she felt a lump on her breast. She made an appointment with Dawn Dahlgren-Roemmich, certified nurse midwife, and a mammogram and ultrasound identified not one but two large lumps.

Gretchen learned that her cancer is incredibly rare, a strain called medullary carcinoma, which occurs in only 3-5 percent of breast cancers, according to breastcancer.org.

“I felt very overwhelmed at first with the information, and because I had larger lumps, things progressed very fast,” she said. “I was well taken care of. It just goes so fast and you get such a load of information. You’re scared, of course. Yet, when you start reading and getting the information and getting a plan put into place, then you feel better. Then you just trust.”

Fortunately, she was told her cancer was stage one and that the prognosis was good with treatment. She consulted with Wade Swenson, M.D., who recommended that she start chemotherapy treatment before surgery.

The first four rounds contained two types of aggressive chemo, which were administered every 21 days.

“The ladies (in ambulatory care) are great. They let me bring music. They turn down the lights. I usually sleep because the last time it took over four hours. They knew this would be very harsh and hard,” she said. “It’s hard, very hard on your body. Then you lose your hair. By three weeks after my first chemo, I was losing my hair.”

After Gretchen finished four rounds of chemo, she had another ultrasound. It showed that her lumps had diminished in size.

“I’m thankful, so very thankful,” she said with a smile. “It’s good news.”

Gretchen then began the process of four more rounds of chemo, this time a weaker blend. After that, she will undergo a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy. It’s almost a year-long process, which prompted her to take a leave of absence from her position as a preschool special education paraprofessional in the Freshwater Education District.

Gretchen found one of the hardest parts of treatment to be the side effects of chemo. They strain her body physically and make her more vulnerable to illness. As a result, contracting a mild virus like a cold could send her to the hospital.Encouraging sign hanging on a wall.

“You have to wear a mask, and of course people stare at you,” she said. “You can do things, but you feel like you have to be so cautious because I didn’t want to get sick.”

Receiving encouragement

Knowing her peaceful porch awaits her after treatment, she is thankful chemo is available right in Wadena so she doesn’t have to travel long distances.

“They’ve been just wonderful and supportive. You see people that know you when you walk in and greet you and ask how you’re doing,” she said.

To those in the community who might wonder about self-exams or who are experiencing their own medical challenge, Gretchen offered encouragement.

“It is very important to do self-exams and catch that early. Diagnosis is very important. Early diagnosis is key,” she said. “And just having the support of your family and friends and getting up every day and being thankful for something even though it’s tough. For me, getting fresh air and sunshine and exercise, even though it’s hard, is important.”

Both Gretchen’s husband, Ron, and daughter, Brittney, have been a source of support for her. Brittney calls frequently and visits on weekends, while Ron escorts her to chemo treatment and provides encouragement. It’s that support and more that keeps Gretchen motivated to beat her affliction.

“I have a strong Christian faith, and I have many friends who come visit me and pray for me. My own family is very supportive,” she said. “People have called and visited when they can. The letters, the cards, people coming and bringing things. It’s just seeing the people and the encouragement and letting me know they’re praying and thinking of me. That’s the most important thing.”


Conquering cancer

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By Jessica Sly, Communications Specialist

 

In October of last year, at the age of 44, Stephanie Sellin saw and felt a lump in her breast. She went to Tri-County Health Care straight away for a mammogram. The findings prompted further testing.

In November, David Kloss, M.D., FACS, performed a minimally invasive breast biopsy. A couple days later, the hospital called and told Stephanie the news. It was positive for cancer.

“I kind of had a feeling,” Stephanie said. “There’s no history in my family, so it was kind of a shock. There were no symptoms. I didn’t feel sick.”Cancer patient, Stephanie, with her husband.

Stephanie’s husband, DJ, stepped confidently into the role of her support system, keeping her spirits up, providing refreshing laughter and giving her a familiar hand to hold. Stephanie noted that their three children, Madisyn, Rachel and Alex, were scared at first but that they handled the situation well.

As Stephanie faced her diagnosis, she tried to cope with the reality that she may have passed the breast cancer gene on to her girls.

“Right away, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve cursed them,’” Stephanie said. “That was probably one of the hardest parts. I didn’t really think about me. It was more, what about my girls?”

Stephanie went in for genetic testing with her oncologist at TCHC, Wade Swenson, M.D., and much to her relief, she found that it wasn’t hereditary.

Cancer patient, Stephanie Sellin,, receiving chemo treatment.With that question cleared, Stephanie underwent a lumpectomy to remove the cancer and then had one more test to determine if she needed chemotherapy. The results indicated her recurrence rate might be higher, so under Dr. Swenson’s care, Stephanie began chemotherapy. She needed four treatments, each spaced three weeks apart.

Displaying an unwavering positive attitude, Stephanie faced the treatment head-on, reveling in the family-like atmosphere at TCHC and the compassionate nurses who gave her heartfelt care.

“Everybody’s awesome, fun, and makes jokes, and it’s not serious,” she said. “We’re laughing and joking and having fun. It feels like everybody’s family. I love it.”

During chemo, however, one of Stephanie’s struggles was saying goodbye to her long hair.

“That was one of the hard parts,” she said. “My hair was down to my butt, and it was really curly. I cried once and then said, ‘Let’s just cut it.’”

Stephanie eased into the transition with a few haircuts. To start, she styled her hair into three braids and let each of her kids cut one off to keep. Then she went to a hairdresser to get it cut further. Once she started chemo, she decided to buzz it all off at home. Her husband also shaved his head.Cancer patient, Stephanie, holds hands with husband, DJ.

“We couldn’t talk any of the kids into it,” she said with a laugh.

Patients of TCHC cancer care receive free wig fittings and wigs in Fergus Falls. Stephanie selected a wig and purchased an assortment of cute hats, but she soon grew accustomed to going without.

Stephanie completed chemotherapy on March 20, the day before her wedding anniversary, so she and DJ celebrated with a special day out.

Following chemo, she began radiation treatment with Dr. Swenson in Fergus Falls every day for four weeks. She completed radiation on May 22.

The experience opened Stephanie’s eyes to the importance of family, finding laughter in the face of adversity, and being proactive with health screenings.

“(Women should) make sure they get their mammograms and find cancer early,” Stephanie urged. “It is very important. It is treatable.”

 

For more information about TCHC’s cancer care program, call 218-631-7461 or visit TCHC.org/cancercare.


Little Warriors…Big Fight

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By: Jil Fiemeyer

I still see them in my dreams at night. The countless bald-headed children smiling and laughing as they ride down the oncology hallway of Children’s Hospital in their wheelchair. The little girl wearing her pajamas, wig and sunglasses as she takes her remote control rat for a walk and giggling when she scared a nurse. The countless kids who walked confidently down the hallway to look at the Minneapolis skyline from the big window on the 7th floor, even if it meant they had to pull the IV pole that was attached to a port in their chest.

Jane getting out of her room and scaring the nurses (who were such great sports!) with her new remote-controlled Rat she named “Ross”.

Jane getting out of her room and scaring the nurses (who were such great sports!) with her new remote-controlled Rat she named “Ross”.

These are kids who day in and day out embraced their journey to fight the cancer bully with the courage and tenacity that would put professional football players to shame.

These same kids are the ones getting injected with poison in hopes that the chemo saves their life. They lose their hair, their innocence and some even lose their lives. These little warriors, these ankle biters, these teenagers… they all have one thing in common. They are fighting a big fight – the fight against PEDIATRIC CANCER – and I’m happy to say it’s a fight that most of them win.

And while the statistics have improved, sometimes even a 90% success rate is not enough. I’m a mom whose daughter was unfortunately in the 10 percent. My daughter, Jane, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of seven – when she was a second-grader at Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School. What appeared to at first be symptoms of an ear infection or maybe even Lyme Disease, within weeks was confirmed as that dreaded “C” word, CANCER. On September 6, 2012, Jane earned her ANGEL’s wings just 13 months after her diagnosis, just weeks before her ninth birthday.

Jane shortly after her diagnosis, before she lost her hair.

Jane shortly after her diagnosis, before she lost her hair.

What I learned in the last three years and probably the biggest surprise to me is that Jane’s medical journey is not that rare. Each year, the parents of approximately 16,000 American kids will hear the words “your child has cancer.” Globally there are more than 250,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year. Jane had Leukemia, possibly one of the most familiar types of cancer, but there are other types of cancers that affect children every year. Generally speaking, there are three categories of children’s cancer:

  • Leukemia: is a cancer of the blood. Leukemia cells are sick immune blood cells that do not work properly and crowd out healthy blood cells. Leukemia’s are the most common childhood cancer. Types of Leukemia include Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
  • Lymphoma – Cancer of the immune system: The sick cells do not work properly to protect the body and they crowd out healthy cells of the immune system. Types of Lymphomas include Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
  • Solid Tumors (Sarcomas) – Cancer of the Bone, Organs or Tissues: A solid tumor is a lump of sick cells stuck together. Tumors can develop in many parts of the body including the brain, kidneys, liver and bones. These sick cells crowd out healthy cells and keep them from doing their job. Types of solid tumor cancers include Neuroblastoma, Ewing Sarcoma and Wilms Tumors.

Across all ages, ethnic groups and socio-economics, pediatric cancer remains the number one cause of death by disease in children in America. Despite major advances – from an overall survival rate of 10 percent just fifty years ago to nearly 90 percent today – for many rare cancers, the survival rate is much lower. Furthermore, the number of diagnosed cases annually has not declined in nearly 20 years.

Jane waiting patiently for her transport nurse to escort her radiology for yet another scan.

Jane waiting patiently for her transport nurse to escort her radiology for yet another scan.

Some facts about childhood cancer…

  • Every day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer.
  • More than 40,000 children are in cancer treatment each year.
  • The average age of children diagnosed is six.
  • One out of eight children with cancer, like Jane, will not survive.
  • 60% of children who survive cancer suffer late-effects, such as infertility, heart failure and secondary cancers.
  • There are approximately 375,000 adult survivors of children’s cancer in the United States.
  • In the last 20 years only three cancer medications have been specifically developed for children.

While doctors and researchers have made strides in the battle against so many other types of cancer, the lack of funding and awareness for our children has led to an insignificant improvement in survival rates for pediatric cancer over the past decade. According to St. Baldrick’s Organization, more children are lost to cancer in the United States than any other disease – in fact, more than many other childhood diseases combined.

So how does childhood cancer become a priority cause in this country? The journey begins with each of us. We need your help to raise more funds and more awareness.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month symbolized by the color gold. It is a month to go GOLD and show your support for kids battling cancer around the world and for those who lost their battle.

Here is how you can help (Pick just one, or try them all):

  • Paint your fingernails gold or wear a gold ribbon in your hair.
  • Wear a gold ribbon pinned to your shirt and tell people why.
  • Change your social media profile photo for the entire month of September to a gold ribbon badge. Customize your own profile photo with a gold ribbon by clicking here. It’s quick, easy and free.
  • Use the hashtag #gogold when you post to social media about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
  • Watch The Truth 365 documentary about childhood cancer. 
  • Hang gold lights in your home or business throughout the month September in honor of Childhood Cancer Month.
  • Paint a gold ribbon on your car window along with “Childhood Cancer Awareness Month”.
  • Watch Our Kids Are Worth “More Than 4”
  • Take the Whipping Childhood Cancer Challenge and challenge your friends.
  • Send a donation to CureSearch to help fund more research for childhood cancer treatments.
  • Donate blood products and get on the national bone marrow registry.
Jane and her sisters liked to play games when they came to visit her in the hospital.

Jane and her sisters liked to play games when they came to visit her in the hospital.

Support local organizations

  • Participate in the local Princess Warrior 5K Run, Walk, Roll, Stroll or Crawl. This 5K was created in honor of my daughter, Jane Fiemeyer, who died from cancer just weeks before her ninth birthday. It was her request before she died that she wanted to have a race – a race that would hopefully in one way or another help her dream for finding a cure for cancer become reality. JaneFiemeyerPrincessWarrior.com
  • Join the “Kayleen Larson Toy Drive” and drop toys off at Coborn’s in Sartell, Minnesota. These toys are given to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis in honor of Kayleen who be forever 9 years old. Please join us in honoring her last wish.
  • Support “A Measure of Healing Hearts for Childhood Cancer” a non-profit organization that was created in honor of twins Gage and Jace, from Deer Creek, Minnesota, who battled the Neuroblastoma Cancer bully as infants and won!

My hope is that each of you will #GoGold during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Together, we can make significant progress toward ending children’s cancer.

Because children are more precious than gold.

About the writer: Jil Fiemeyer is a Wadena native and a Communications Specialist on the marketing team at Tri-County Health Care. She is the mother of three beautiful girls and enjoys each and every day of being their mom. Since her daughter’s Leukemia diagnosis and her death, Jil has learned first-hand the effects of grief and how it manifests around the ones you love. As her way to heal, Jil enjoys writing and has recently started talking to groups about grief, grief recovery and living your best life despite all the struggles that life has to offer.

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*Tri-County Health Care hosts a “Parents Who Have Lost a Child” support group to help those in the area affected by the loss of a child. They meet the second Monday of the month from 5:30 – 7 p.m. in the Wesley Conference Room at Tri-County Health Care. Click here to learn more…


My cancer diagnosis story…

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By: Deb Miller

Deb and her family.

Deb and her family.

This April, I had a suspicious mammogram at TCHC that was followed immediately by an ultrasound. Two days later I had a biopsy done at TCHC and three days later I got the results of the biopsy that showed I had triple negative breast cancer. I am so thankful for the knowledgeable staff at TCHC and how quickly they took care of me. Because this is a more aggressive type of breast cancer, the providers I work with at the Henning Clinic and my family strongly encouraged me to get a second opinion at a breast cancer center. I spent the week of April 27th in the Twin Cities with appointments at Virginia Piper Breast Center and Minnesota Oncology and started chemo the first week of May. By the time I am done, I will have a total of 16 chemo treatments, followed by surgery and possibly radiation.

“God’s Got This” is something I have always believed, and a promise that our family has clung to in the last 3-½ years. In October of 2011, our daughter-in-law Leanne was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 26 years old and pregnant with their first child. She was a young woman with an amazing faith in God and she lived her 2-½ year cancer journey totally trusting that “God’s Got This.” God continually showed our families in countless ways that he would provide what we needed for each day of that journey. Leanne was always ready to share her faith and the promise that “God’s Got This” with those she met. The last time that Leanne was at our home was Easter, April 20, 2014. I was diagnosed this year on April 20th, which was exactly 11 months after she went to heaven on May 20th, 2014. While it seemed almost impossible that we could be going through this again so soon, I also knew that I had no better example of how to live my cancer journey than Leanne and there was no doubt, “God’s Got This”!

Deb with her co-workers wearing the t-shirts they had made for a fundraiser to help her offset her medical expenses.

Deb with her co-workers wearing the t-shirts they had made for a fundraiser to help her offset her medical expenses.

I have worked for Tri-County Health Care since 1994 at the Henning Clinic in Lab and X-ray. After my diagnosis, I found out that Amy Severson and my co-workers at the Henning Clinic had arranged a fundraiser. I showed up at work one day and they were wearing these “God’s Got This” t-shirts they had made. I can’t even put into words how special that was to me. I work with the best people and their support means the world to me. They have been with me through all the ups and downs of the last 3 ½ years and they are like my second family.

Words of wisdom to give to newly diagnosed? You will be inundated with information at a very emotional time. Take someone with you to your appointments so you have a second set of ears to listen to everything. Ask them to take notes. It’s ok to get a second opinion, you want to be as informed as possible and then choose the provider you feel the most comfortable with. For me, once my treatment plan was in place, it was very overwhelming to think about how many months all this was going to take. I do my best to take one day at a time, be thankful for the blessings of that day and with my family, friends and God by my side, I will get through this.