Without local cancer care, one Jamestown woman says she may have given up.
Last year tested the faith of Alice Wanzek. Between the novel coronavirus and her cancer, Wanzek has been challenged in many ways.
The 83-year-old’s husband, Richard, passed away in April 2020. Because of COVID-19, the family buried him in May, six weeks later. In August 2020, Wanzek’s son Mike experienced a significant traumatic brain injury and could not breathe on his own. In November, she traveled to California to care for her other son, Dean, battling cancer. And in December, doctors diagnosed Wanzek with cancer of her own, in the left breast.
Doctors surgically removed the lump that month. Since then, Wanzek has received chemotherapy at Jamestown Regional Medical Center. She completed her treatments on June 1.
“We were so happy it was in Jamestown,” said her daughter, Kristi Oscarson.
Wanzek said she felt fatigued after chemotherapy, as well as her challenging year. With all that she has going on with her family, she may have refused treatment had she needed to travel.
“I don’t know how we would have done it,” said Wanzek’s daughter, Lisa Reich.
Alice and Richard raised their seven children on a farm west of Jamestown. Farm living made her a “fighter,” Oscarson said. However, Wanzek credits support from her children, neighbors and friends.
“I’ve had a lot of people offer to help me,” she said.
Among her helpers are the members of the JRMC Cancer Center team. Registered Nurses K.C. Robison and Garrett Hillius could always be counted on for a silly joke or comment to lighten the mood.
“They have a sense of humor. But I don’t want to see them again,” she said, smiling.
Wanzek’s journey continued with radiation in June.
TWO YEARS. 12 GRADUATES. Nearly 500,000 MILES.
JRMC opened the JRMC Cancer Center in June 2019 in partnership with Sanford Health. Wanzek is the 12th patient to ring the graduation bell. Each month, the JRMC Cancer Center provides more than 100 chemotherapy infusions, saving nearly 250,000 miles of travel each year.
To learn more about the JRMC Cancer Center or to schedule care, visit www.jrmcnd.com/cancer.