It was the small things – special touches and thoughtful gestures – that gave Rebecca “Becki” Tellock a needed boost during her cancer treatment.
“Even though the days are difficult, those acts of kindness can help make someone’s experience better,” she explained. “Those special moments increased my positivity and outlook during treatment.”
Tellock is the Director of Financial Operations, Planning & Analysis at ThedaCare. She is also a breast cancer survivor.
In March 2021, she had a routine mammogram. At 41-years-old, she was diagnosed with breast cancer which had spread to several lymph nodes. She had surgery, 16 rounds of chemotherapy over 20 weeks, more surgery, and five weeks of radiation. Her chemotherapy sessions were 3-4 hours for each treatment at the Regional Cancer Center.
Tellock said her care team – nurses, patient navigators, Dr. Shannon Schmidt, and more – became like family.
“Everyone was amazing,” she said. “It starts the minute you walk in the door at registration. I see them help so many patients – with whatever they need. Navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment can be challenging, and I’m so grateful for the coordination that made it easier for me and family.”
She said she is also grateful for the support she felt from others at the Regional Cancer Center. She recalled stickers with positive messages made by Linda Elliott, a Licensed Practical Nurse, that brought a smile to her face.
“Linda would personally make those stickers for patients,” said Tellock. “In that moment, it is something simple that meant so much to a person going through treatment. It made me feel special.”
She also felt hope after receiving a handmade gift from volunteers of the ThedaCare Family of Foundations: a “Cape of Hope”. These fleece garments are given to provide comfort and warmth as patients wait for treatment or move between rooms at the ThedaCare Cancer Center.
“Again, it was something so small, but gave me a huge lift,” she said. “The cape I picked was personalized with a football design. It made me think of my sons and remember why I needed to keep pushing to get healthy – for them.”
In the fall of 2021, the hard part of the treatment was over. She was deemed cancer free. Each week Tellock said she would walk by the Survivorship Bell and think about her goal ringing it one day.
“I would hear the bell being rung by other patients and give myself a countdown until it would be my turn,” she said.
She finally had her opportunity to ring the Survivorship Bell on October 6, 2021, her last chemotherapy treatment.
“My parents and sister flew in from Maryland to celebrate the completion of my chemo,” she said. “My mom came to treatment with me that morning, and the plan was my family would be waiting for me by the bell. Much to my surprise when I walked out of the building, I saw much more than my family. There were more than 20 people waiting to celebrate with me, including many coworkers and friends.”
To manage her health, Tellock now takes ongoing medications and has regular check-in appointments with the ThedaCare Cancer Care team. She also participated in the Livestrong program through the YMCA, as exercise is an important part of survivorship.
Supporting the ThedaCare Family of Foundations
After a few months of reflection on her own health journey, Tellock decided she wanted to help spread the positivity and encouragement she received during her care through support of an event for the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center.
She connected with the ThedaCare Family of Foundations to learn more about how she could give back directly to people who cared for her.
“I remember when I was going through treatment in 2021, the nurses and staff told me about a team member appreciation event for those who work at the Regional Cancer Center,” she explained. “They would be going to a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game for an employee appreciation night. They were all so excited. When I decided to give back, and learned another outing to a game was planned, I felt like that was a great way to support those who provided such compassionate care for me.”
Tellock said it was also a great connection for her family – her two sons played baseball and understand the joy people feel when taking in a game.
“I hope that by supporting the team member event, it provides the caregivers an opportunity to enjoy something fun,” she said. “They work incredibly hard to care for patients and families, and they deserve to be recognized and celebrated.”
Becki’s gift is a great example of how the foundation team at ThedaCare works to personalize the giving experience.
“Together, Becki and I explored many areas that donors impact, touching both the cancer team and their patients,” said Erin Tyink, Regional Development Director for the ThedaCare Family of Foundations. “It became clear that this team member recognition event was a fitting opportunity that would be meaningful to her. Those moments, when we can match a donor’s passions with the organization’s goals and aspirations, are an honor to witness.”
Heart of a Donor Series
This article is part of a planned series featuring generous donors who support the ThedaCare Family of Foundations. Donations to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations help fund projects and programs on many levels across the system. If you know a donor, or community organization, who has a connection to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations, and believe should be featured in the “Heart of a Donor” series, please email Foundations@thedacare.org.
To learn more about the ThedaCare Family of Foundations and the impact of donor support, please visit thedacare.org/Foundations.
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 650,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 providers and team members. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including eight hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique, best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts about a patient’s care. ThedaCare is proud to partner with Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network to enhance convenient access to the most advanced levels of specialty care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care. For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.