Keeping care local: Infusion & Cancer Care

It seems that as life moves ahead, it gets busier and more filled with responsibility. Providing for children, paying bills, caring for loved ones and helping others in the community - these are all important items often found on your to-do list. However, when these things get in the way of you making your own wellbeing a priority, it can lead to some big problems.

This was the case for Cindi Gill from Lyndon Station. She had a full to-do list as a mother, wife, caregiver and career women. Although routinely seeing a healthcare provider was once a top priority, Cindi found her health becoming less of a focus...until one day it forced itself to the top of her list.

“My primary care provider, Randy Brandt, said it was time for me to have a pap test and mammogram,” recalls Cindi. “He really felt that these were needed, so I went to see Dr. Pech and Maria Wolf in gynecology. After meeting with them, I had a procedure at Mile Bluff, and it was discovered that I had stage 4 uterine cancer.”

Cindi began her treatments in Madison, but transferred once she learned that she could see an oncologist at the UW Speciality Clinic in Mauston, and receive chemotherapy treatments in Mile Bluff’s Infusion and Cancer Care (ICC) Department.

“My first day of treatment was Friday, February 13 and I went through six cycles of chemo every three weeks,” explains Cindi. “I came through 18 weeks of chemo fairly well. I count my blessings because it wasn’t as bad it could have been.”

“Receiving treatment and care at Mile Bluff saved us from having to drive to Madison all the time,” continues Cindi.

Being able to receive her care locally also made it easier for Cindi to continue living life as normally as possible. “I was able to work while receiving treatment,” explains Cindi. “One thing I learned through this whole process is that I have a lot of people watching my back, and my work family did just that. At The Bank of Mauston, I was able to take the time I needed, and I was still able to work four days a week.”

As she underwent treatment, Cindi found comfort in being able to continue her normal routine. “So many times people see others with cancer and think that they can’t do and function as they always did. To be able to work, go grocery shopping and attend church while I was receiving treatment showed people that just because I had cancer, life didn’t have to stop.”

When going through treatment for cancer, many patients find strength through the people around them. “A week before I started treatment, I went to ‘Look Good... Feel Better’ [a cancer-related beauty support resource],” recalls Cindi. “I was in the room with five other beautiful women in various stages of treatment. At one point, I had a realization about my diagnosis, and I just sat there and cried. The other ladies surround me with such love and warmth. They got me through that first stage.”

In addition to the support from her family, co-workers, community and other cancer survivors, Cindi also found support from Mile Bluff’s ICC team. “One thing about the all of the departments at Mile Bluff is the compassion of the staff,” says Cindi. “There’s understanding. If you need a hand, they are there to hold it. Everyone does it throughout the organization; it’s just a part of who the medical team is.”

Cindi continues, “I love the girls in the cancer center. They put others first. They treated me like a precious child of God, and were a part of saving my life. I know the care they gave to me, they’ve given to others.”

The ICC at Mile Bluff is unique because it offers private treatment rooms for each patient. “Along with providing my treatments, the center also became a safe haven for me,” admits Cindi. “I was trying to stay so strong for so many people, but that room just gave me space to decompress and cry. I knew that it was a safe place to do that though.”

Not only did the ICC provide Cindi with care and support, the atmosphere gave her hope. “The view from my treatment room window included a tree. Being in that room for 18 weeks, I saw the tree change with the seasons. The peace and tranquility of it was wonderful, and looking out my window and seeing life was encouraging.”

Through her own experience, Cindi now encourages everyone to make their health a priority. “We’re so busy being a mom, being in the work force, being a caregiver, and having obligations, that we put ourselves to the bottom of the pedestal,” says Cindi. “Had I put myself a little higher on the priority list, we could have caught this cancer a whole lot sooner. The diagnosis could have been different.”

“I can’t live with regrets, but my main objective in life right now is to tell people to know their body, know who they are, and take the time if something isn’t right, to seek help.”

If something just doesn’t feel right in your body, take Cindi’s advice and seek help from your healthcare provider. If you would like more information about the Infusion & Cancer Care Department, call 608-847-9877.