To the Editor:
Rapids: Do you realize what you’ve got?
Greetings, Wisconsin Rapids, from Roseau, Minnesota —
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think about my 2 months stay in your town last Spring. I was in the Rapids receiving radiation therapy for prostate cancer at the Aspirus UW Cancer Center which you may know is a branch of the Carbone Cancer Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Did you know it’s one of the outstanding cancer centers in the country? To have the privilege of being a patient there is to discover why. Why there? My closer option was the Altru Health System in Grand Forks, North Dakota, 120 miles from Roseau.
The recommended therapy would take eight to 10 weeks, five days a week. That would mean driving 120 miles each way from Roseau five days a week or staying in a motel and coming home on weekends. I told my Oncologist, Dr. Winchester, that my wife Julie and I worked off a faith base in our lives so we would like to take some time to pray and reflect on the best decision.
Shortly thereafter I was reading Psalm 32 one morning and verse 8 caught my attention: “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Soon after that our long time friends David and Cookie Dennstedt from Wisconsin Rapids called to invite me to take my treatments at Aspirus UW Cancer Center and stay with them. They are a seven minute drive from Aspirus.
My wife and I believed this was God’s answer to our prayers, “the best pathway” for my cancer treatments. Aspirus accepted me for treatment which began with a consultation on April 21. My wife and I first met with Mary, a nurse practioner who helped us relax and feel glad we came. Then my doctor for the journey, Dr. Anna Olson, came in, greeted us warmly, sat down, looked me in the eye, and said, “You’re not going to die from prostate cancer.”
Dr. Anna is a Radiation Oncologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Human Oncology at the University of Wisconsin. She has become my medical “hero.”
I received 39 treatments over eight weeks beginning on May 2 and ending on June 24 with minimal side effects in my case. My radiation therapists were Becky and Vicki who cared for me each day like I was the reason they got out of bed that morning. They will always be special people in my life. But this was the posture of everyone I met at the Aspirus UW Cancer Center from the receptionists who welcomed me each morning to Dr. Anna who met with me each Wednesday.
Aspirus UW Cancer Center right here in your town is a credit to your community and a source of hope and potential healing for those of us who have had the privilege of coming under their care. Do you know someone who might benefit from their care. Rapids, do you realize what you’ve got here? If so, spread the word! And oh yeah, next June you may want to become a part of the seventh annual Renaissance (5k-10k) Race (run or walk) Against Cancer, I was there this year, #488.
Pastor Joe Elick