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Letter of Gratitude to Clinic

​​​​​Marshfield Clinic
1000 N Oak Avenue
Marshfield, WI 54449-9988

Shining Star Program,

My husband, Allen Roberts, was treated for pancreatic cancer at Marshfield Clinic, Weston Center, over a period of nine months, from November 2011 until his death in August 2012. His primary oncologist was Dr. Adedayo Onitilo. All through the course of the disease, both Allen and I felt like we were getting first rate treatment.

Whenever we asked about a possible new drug or clinical trial, Dr. Onitilo already knew about it and whether or not it might be effective in Allen's situation. We appreciated the honest talks we could have with Dr. Onitilo, and Jill Depke, Oncology Nurse Practitioner. We always felt like they really listened to our needs, and treated Allen as a whole person, rather than just dealing with his cancer.

Having them listen to Allen, rather than just tell him what they were going to do to him, was an important emotional component for both of us.

I just finished reading the The End of Your Life Book Club, where Will Schwalbe's mother is dying of pancreatic cancer. She tells her son that the doctors will tell her when it's time to stop treatment. Will states, "I wasn't so sure of that. Mom had phenomenal doctors, the best, but this was the trickiest area of all. How does a doctor tell you that it's over, that there are things they could do but probably shouldn't, and that if your aim is quality of life and not quantity of life, there simply are no good next treatments? Many doctors simply avoid this conversation."

Dr. Onitilo did not avoid this extremely difficult conversation. Of course I will never forget the day. He told us, sadly and honestly, that the treatments weren't working, that we had exhausted our options, and that he would recommend comfort care. Those were hard words to hear, but even harder to say. We so appreciated Dr. Onitilo's honesty, and the caring manner he used.

On days like that, it's not easy to be the doctor. He also put us in touch with Ministry Home Health Care, and we received the very highest quality help in the last months of Allen's life. People like Dr. Onitilo and Jill Depke should get a Shining Star EVERY day!

My Shining Star recommendations, and my sincere thanks, don't end there. Every single nurse who administered chemotherapy to Allen, week after week, was incredible. Each one listened, explained, and made Allen as comfortable as possible. Each one was willing to do absolutely anything to make our experience successful. They are all first-rate, caring human beings, making life better for others every day. They ALL deserve a shining star!

So do the pharmacists. Every week, and sometimes twice a week, I would go to the pharmacy and get the prescribed medications. They filled them in a timely fashion, explained things to me, called the Insurance company, and tried In every way to make life easier for us on that end.

On my way to the pharmacy, I met more Shining Stars. There are several ladies who greet and help patients. I never really used their services because we parked at the Cancer Center entry, but these individuals make a wonderful difference as people are arriving. They exist to serve. They smile genuinely all day. They give directions, get wheelchairs, help people to the door, and even mop the entryway. Their friendly, helpful style make everyone's arrival and departure a pleasant happening.

Patients who are coming and going to/from a medical center are often under stress. The employees at Marshfield Clinic make a positive difference. Our experience there, over nine difficult months, was excellent. The fact that Marshfield Clinic continues to send out questionnaires inquiring about patients' experiences means that you care enough to keep improving.

Thank you, all you Shining Stars!

Ver​y Sincerely,

​  ​

Helen Roberts