Patients tell their special stories
Throughout the OSF Ministry, we’re blessed to witness different types of miracles every day. Some are major medical triumphs, others are simple moments of joy when we’re able to make a patient smile. We invite you to explore the stories made possible by the generous gifts we receive from our faithful supporters. You’ll find examples and confirmation of the hope, faith, generosity, and inspiration that exist here at OSF.
Having cancer can be an isolating and disorienting experience—before, during, and even after treatment. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a place to meet a friend for coffee and conversation, take an uplifting exercise class, and get support in navigating your next steps to embrace wellness? Cancer survivor Linda Huffman Jones thought so, and in 2010, she and her husband David opened Healing Pathways in Rockford to help people and families facing life touched by cancer.
Years later, the Jones’ vision for a cancer wellness center is still seeing people through tough times. “OSF Healing Pathways is such a blessing,” says Angela Larson, a two-time breast cancer survivor. “I didn’t realize what would unfold here for me, but the love and connections have just been incredible.”
Angela derived particular benefit from a Writing to Heal workshop that was held at Healing Pathways. She was diagnosed for the first time at 29 years old and had a mastectomy when she was 30, a traumatic experience that she internalized. “My body went into mourning,” Angela says. “Writing opened up the floodgates and helped me heal.”
When she survived a second bout of cancer, Angela felt called to respond by helping others heal too. She now volunteers to lead programs focused on healing through art and writing.
Writing might not be for everyone, however. At OSF Healing Pathways, there’s a full calendar of free activities and services to support patients and their families seeking healing and wholeness together. The services are available to anyone, regardless of where they receive their cancer treatment. Here’s just a sampling of offerings:
- Survivorship Series: Keep learning and growing strong by learning from experts on topics such as Late Effects of Cancer Treatment, Dealing with Fear of Recurrence, Nutrition & Exercise, and Stress Management
- A.R.E.giver’s Support Group: Care. Advocate. Resource. Educate. Practical and emotional help for those who accompany a cancer patient on her journey.
- Lunch and Learn: Enjoy a healthy lunch while gaining helpful information on things like managing lymphedema and the potential benefits of aromatherapy
- Coffee and Creativity: Bring your notebook, knitting needles, or your painting project and enjoy fellowship and relaxation while creating something new and beautiful with friends.
- Oncology Massage: Studies show massage therapy reduces fatigue and promotes relaxation to ease the side effects of cancer treatment.
Program coordinator Amy Mullen is convinced that something special happens at OSF Healing Pathways. “The best part about my job at OSF Healing Pathways is how much I am continuously impacted by the resilience and courage of the wonderful people that I get to serve in this community,” she says. “They come to our center to be uplifted, to receive support, and for their stress to be alleviated, but I think that the beautiful gift that staff and providers receive is simply the gift of being a small part of their story.”
There are approximately 20 active volunteers at OSF Healing Pathways, varying from licensed massage therapists, reflexologists, licensed clinical social workers, dietitians, nurse navigators, exercise instructors, and multiple volunteers who assist with clerical duties and reception. Together they serve roughly 50 guests per month, a number Amy would like to see grow by adding additional volunteers to provide massage therapy and reflexology services. Monetary donations are also welcome.
A special delivery was made at Almost Home Kids at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois on Friday, November 2. Two new Brady Buggy® Wagons, Leonard the Lion and Peaches the Penguin, rolled into the transitional care facility to comfort our pediatric patients with their complicated health care needs.
Ben Thang, the first patient at Almost Home Kids, can now be mobile – even with his medical equipment. The wagons also have a trailer hitch that will help tow children’s IV’s. This donation isn’t just a wagon. It allows pediatric patients and their siblings the ability to experience a safe and fun means of transportation at Almost Home Kids home-like atmosphere.
Cheryl Murin, community outreach coordinator, states, “Almost Home Kids is thankful for the generous donation of two Brady Buggy® Wagons. The children at Almost Home Kids will enjoy this beautiful gift for years to come!”
Funded entirely by donations, Almost Home Kids provides transitional care for children with complicated health needs. The children who come to Almost Home Kids are clinically ready for discharge from the hospital, yet important factors need to be considered in order to bring them home safely.
Your donation to Almost Home Kids at OSF Children’s Hospital isn’t just dollars. It’s Ben getting to experience fun ride, his older sister learning to safely play with him and his mother being comfortable providing his care.
Without your generosity, we would be unable to provide these much needed services to the community. Today, we are asking you to help the children and families who need it the most. Your gift today can truly change their lives.
Don King was not yet 20 years old and making just $4.25 per hour. His wife and newborn son were in the hospital in Peoria, fighting to keep alive the dream of their new family. After weeks of worry and prayer, a joyful Don and Valerie King were able to take home their healthy son, Jacob.
How they were going to pay the bill, however, was a new problem for the young couple. But when Don went in to see what he could do about taking care of it, he was met by an OSF Sister who told him, “You don’t owe us anything.”
Reflecting on that moment chokes Don up a bit. “I was raised to know that, you know what, I couldn’t take care of it then, but I was driven to make sure that someday down the road I could do something about that,” he explains. “Thank God it’s time we get to give back to other people…”
We celebrated that day this past June, 35 years after Don and Valerie King received the gift of taking their boy home. In turn, they made a wonderful gift to broaden access to care.
The King Care-A-Van is an innovative mobile health unit that will bring wellness services, health screenings, immunizations and health education to the people in rural communities.
Thank you, Don and Valerie, for sharing your gifts with others!
The expertise and timely care at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center saved me. Because of them, my wife and I get to enjoy many more years together with our family doing things we love and that is truly priceless.
So, how important is the difference between 26 and 90? Take it from someone who knows – It means life. It means my family, friends and neighbors can count on OSF Saint Anthony’s to be there when they need help. I am thankful that OSF Saint Anthony’s was there for me and my family – and through the generosity of our community, I trust they’ll be there for yours.
As a retiree, I was enjoying some of the best times of my life. My wife and I were appreciating time with our family and some of our favorite hobbies like showing off our 66 Chevy. And then one morning I didn’t feel quite right.
You don’t get to be my age without a bad day or two, so I pushed it aside. But throughout the morning, I developed indigestion-type symptoms and then fatigue. I had no pain, so, yet again, I dismissed thoughts of anything serious. But as the minutes ticked by, my body felt completely drained.
And then pain started radiating down my back. Before I knew it, I was lying on the floor, sweating profusely. At that moment, I could no longer ignore everything I had been rationalizing. I was having a heart attack.
As I lay on the floor, my condition deteriorated rapidly. I knew I needed help right away. My wife loaded me into the car and raced the 10 minutes to OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center.
During the car ride, I began to lose my vision and sounds became garbled. By the time we arrived, I was almost completely unresponsive.
The OSF Saint Anthony Emergency Medicine team immediately performed an EKG and notified the Cardiovascular Department. Within 12 minutes of my arrival, a cardiologist determined I was having a major heart attack. After 26 minutes, the Cardiovascular Team restored blood flow to my heart. It felt like someone had flipped my switch back on. Instantly, I could see, hear and speak as if nothing had happened.
Here is the amazing thing – the national average for hospitals to restore blood flow is 90 minutes. If that had been true in my situation, I’m not sure I would have survived.
Our miracle family story is not the typical story that is shared, but one I believe should be. Our daughter Amelia Irene Grady was born on January 4, 2016 and died on February 4 the same year. If you had asked me then to tell her story I would not have considered using the word miracle. As time has gone on, I have begun to realize the many wonderful things that at the time I did not fully appreciate. I am forever grateful for the compassionate care that we received during this time. Everyone did their best to help us cherish our time together during this journey:
- Before Amelia was born, OSF caregivers designed an elaborate plan for her delivery and immediate care afterwards
- We had plenty of ultrasound pictures as keepsakes.
- Through advanced surgical technology at OSF Children’s Hospital, a 3D model of Amelia’s heart was developed and given to us as a small reminder of her.
- One nurse arranged to have a photographer to capture special moments for our family, the first time we held Millie, -her baptism – and when she took her last breath.
- And her caregivers made sure we had hand and foot prints of Amelia and locks of her hair. In addition, they gave our boy’s angel bears to remind them of their sister.
The time immediately following Amelia’s death was difficult at best. I was in a very dark place and if it were not for the Pediatric Supportive Care and specifically Megan Mutti I don’t know that I would have made it back to the light. Not only does OSF have state-of-the-art facilities to care for children they also offer free counseling for family members that are experiencing illness and loss. The staff of OSF Children’s Hospital gave us a month to love and celebrate our daughter and then gave us the strength to carry on and begin to heal and a way to spread love and hope for others facing loss going forward. To read the full story of this families journey, click here.
The Pediatric Supportive Care program at OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois is designed to support families dealing with chronic and life-limiting illnesses. This program supports families through medical consultations for symptom management, counseling services and provides support to help families who have experienced a loss. If you are interested in making a contribution to this program, please click the button below: