After he was diagnosed with cancer for the second time in his life, Jerry Stevens thought about how treatment might be different.
“I was treated for colon cancer more than 25 years ago, and I understand that things have probably changed quite a bit since then,” he said. “One thing I do know is how the disease can take a toll on people and their families.”
When a person begins treatment after a cancer diagnosis, they often have many questions about the process. ThedaCare has a network of team members who are dedicated to helping patients, and provide support during cancer treatment.
“After a diagnosis, patients and families are absorbing quite a bit of information and it can be overwhelming,” explained Lisa Kellnhauser, Coordinator of Cosmetology Services at ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center. “Ahead of the first treatment, we want to ensure patients feel confident with their care plan. One thing that is often discussed is what to wear during treatment.”
Kellnhauser explained that for chemotherapy appointments, the best clothing choice is a shirt that provides easy access to a port. A port is a device used to draw blood and give chemotherapy and antibiotics. The port is placed under the skin, on the left or right side of the chest. A shirt with a zipper, snaps or Velcro on both sides of the neck allows team members to discreetly access the area, while providing privacy for the patient.
Before his first chemotherapy session, Stevens purchased one of the shirts.
“We want to be sure that patients feel comfortable as they begin treatment,” said Kellnhauser. “This type of shirt can help team members deliver the medicine with ease, and allow the patient to focus on their main goal – their health.”
Accessible shirts can often be purchased online. Or, everyday shirts can be adapted to add snaps or zippers.
Understanding the need patients may have for the specific clothing, the ThedaCare Cancer Care team aimed to provide the resource to more people, without the additional expense to the patient.
To support the project, Kellnhauser reached out to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations. Donations to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations help fund projects and programs on many levels across the system, enhancing the experience of patients, families and team members. The Foundation recommended connecting with Icon Marketing Inc., a local company which produces promotional products.
When Chad Romenesko, owner and president of Icon Marketing Inc., received the call asking for support, he knew he wanted to help. Icon is now donating 1,000 shirts to be modified for patients to wear during chemotherapy treatment.
Knowing how much the shirt helped during his chemotherapy sessions, Stevens wanted to support the project. He made a generous donation to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations to supply all of the materials to modify the donated shirts.
“The shirts make it much easier when the nurses need to access the port,” he said. “I wanted to do anything I could to help the patients and the care teams, making it better for everyone if possible.”
To modify the shirts, ThedaCare requested the help from the community, asking sewers to volunteer their time and talents to modify the shirts by adding a zipper to the left or right side for easy access to the patient’s ports.
The shirts will be neutral colors for both men and women, with unisex sizing. And, free for patients going through treatment at ThedaCare.
“We are incredibly grateful to Icon Marketing, Jerry, and all of the volunteers,” said Kellnhauser. “With their dedication and support, we are able to provide something small to help people who are going through a difficult journey. We hope this gesture empowers patients to feel confident during their treatment, and continue their path to recovery.”
Stevens hopes it can help others who sit alongside him during treatment.
The first modified shirt will be given to Stevens on Friday, December 1 at the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center.
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.