SPONSORED: Healing beyond the hospital; local woman shares her story

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RICE LAKE, Wis. (WEAU)- “We always try to remind ourselves there’s a person attached to the cancer and that person, we need to meet their emotional needs and care for the whole person and not just the cancer,” said Colleen Elmberg, an RN of oncology infusion at Marshfield Clinic in Rice Lake.

First-grade teacher Carye Marach was not anticipating what the doctor was about to say when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of last summer.

“Within an hour of hearing that, I got a lot of hugs,” Carye said.

And that's when everything changed.

“My regular chemo where I sit in the chair every week, I’ve completed that,” she said. “I’ve completed a single mastectomy, as well as many rounds of radiation. I’m doing an oral chemo therapy right now.”

But Carye was fighting yet, another battle; one that didn't involve treatments or surgeries, but a cloud of numerous thoughts and "what-ifs.”

“You never know what cancer would mean,” she said.

But luckily, she wasn't alone. Aside from family and friends, she also had someone to call.

“I tell patients I am their firefighter, crack filler and bump smoother,” said Rita Correll.

Correll is one of the first people Carye talked to after being diagnosed. In fact, Correll is the Rice Lake facility’s first-ever patient navigator.

“As a navigator, I generally walk with them throughout the process,” Correll said.

And while Carye has someone to answer her questions, she’s also taken advantage of other resources to help her heal, beyond the hospital. This includes the mediation room: “You need the time to sit and have to yourself, but having those extra chairs for family if they're there, or others who are going through it as well, is really nice,” Carye said.

She’s also had the Healing Garden outside.

“It’s nice to look out window and see life goes on and it’s still fun things.”

The garden is a place that Elmberg, who is also the garden coordinator, hopes will be a place of refuge from the dark and scary thoughts of cancer.

“It’s a place where people can get away from the clinical ugliness of cancer and maybe reconnect with a little bit of nature and find some comfort here,” Elmberg said. “We have people who choose to sit out here and get their chemo infusion.”

Because the battle against cancer doesn't just happen inside the hospital, you need the support of others.

“For anyone else who’s going through it, don't be afraid to lean on those around you,” Carye said. “Thank you to those who have been there for me, they have been the world.”

While Carye is hoping to be done with oral chemo by the end of summer, she also takes part in a support group once a month called ‘You Are Not Alone’ to help with the social healing process.

This segment is sponsored by Marshfield Clinic Health System.