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Cancer Care Close to Home



Cathy Nash, of Bemidji, had routine mammograms like every woman is encouraged to do after the age of 40. But a digital mammogram in July 2010 revealed some microcalcification, so she elected to do follow-up digital mammograms every six months for two years.

“But my last one showed it had spread significantly,” she said.

A biopsy confirmed she had breast cancer. A lumpectomy and additional surgery was followed by chemotherapy every three weeks for three months, radiation every weekday for a month, and some physical therapy, all at Sanford Bemidji. Nash said seeking treatment at Sanford Bemidji eased some stress being close to home.

“A lot of times with my chemo I was so nauseated and fatigued, I know it would have been very hard to have had to travel,” she said. “Plus, it would have meant taking more time off for both my husband and me from work.” It also allowed Nash to be near her support system of friends and family.

“My whole family is here in the Bemidji area and it was so great to have them help me out when I needed it,” Nash said. “It gave my husband a break from caring for me when I was at my weakest and most needy times.”

It was a painful journey, but Nash celebrated in June 2013 when her doctor called to share good news: her latest mammogram was normal. “I cried tears of happiness,” she said. “I will always worry, but I know everything I went through was worth it. I’m only 52 and have kids and grandkids who I want to be around for many years to come.”

Nash said the medical team at the Sanford Bemidji Cancer Center, who guided her through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and physical therapy were all helpful, compassionate and professional.

“When I had trouble in chemotherapy, I found I needed more fluids because it drained me too much,” she said. “On the second day of chemo, the staff had IV fluid replacement waiting for me. They are just very good to work with and they make it very individualized.” Shari Hahn, Director of Cancer Services at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, said more than 350 patients are treated for cancer in Bemidji each year and every patient has different needs. The staff uses a variety of resources, programs and services to accommodate each of the needs and, at the same time, strives to develop and expand them.

“We serve a large population and we want to provide the best services as close to home as possible,” Hahn said. Donors to Sanford Bemidji Cancer Center help ensure patients have access to cutting-edge diagnostics and life-saving treatment, and that the medical team can receive advanced training and education. That means the very best care is available right here, in the Bemidji region. Nash’s cancer journey inspired her to want to support other breast cancer patients.

“After experiencing cancer and undergoing treatment, I’ve come to realize how important it is to support the well-being of a cancer patient,” Nash said.

To learn more about the Sanford Bemidji Cancer Center or to make a gift, visit foundation.sanfordhealth.org or call the Sanford Health Foundation at (218) 333-5515.

Posted Date: October 2013

Cancer Care Close to Home

Cathy Nash, of Bemidji, had routine mammograms like every woman is encouraged to do after the age of 40. But a digital mammogram in July 2010 revealed some microcalcification, and seeking treatment at Sanford Bemidji eased some stress being closer to home.