When Jeannie Beckmann watched her mother go through a breast cancer diagnosis and pass away in 2018, it was quite challenging - physically, mentally, and emotionally.
But, in early 2021, that cancer diagnosis became even more personal, as Jeannie was diagnosed with breast cancer herself.
Knowing her mother had breast cancer, Jeannie's care team decided to pursue genetic testing, where it was determined Jeannie had the chek2 gene - a genetic marker of enhanced risks of developing breast and colon cancers.
"I wanted to move forward with the genetic testing for the fact of knowing," Jeannie said. "I did it right here in Dubuque at the Wendt Center, and everyone was wonderful. Once we got the results back, I was explained everything in terms I could understand and how this could impact my cancer care."
Jeannie's cancer care journey began with surgery, followed by 21 rounds of radiation at the Wendt Regional Cancer Center.
"The Wendt Center gave me hope," Jeannie said. "That is one of the biggest things when you have cancer, especially when you are dealing with it personally."
Throughout her journey, Jeannie knew she was going to be supported every step of the way by the Wendt Center staff.
"It was amazing to have that support team here," Jeannie said. "They made me feel good every single day, and I was always excited to come and see them. They just make you feel good about everything and for a little while, they make you even forget that you are going through a cancer diagnosis."
On August 17, Jeannie reached the end of her radiation treatments and had a lot to celebrate. At the beginning of her appointment, Jeannie was presented with a comfort bag from the Pink Hummingbird Project that was complete with a blanket, neck pillow, lotions, and other comfort care items. The Pink Hummingbird Project is a local organizations raising cancer awareness and providing patient support, in memory of a woman that passed away, following a courageous battle with breast cancer.
The meaning behind Jeannie receiving that bag was a vivid reminder of what she had gone through as a breast cancer patient.
"I got a bag with a blanket, a neck pillow, fuzzy socks, and lotion," Jeannie said. "The staff told me these bags were donated by an organization of a special person that lost their mother to breast cancer. It was after they handed me the bag and told me I was a Wendt Center Warrior when I started becoming emotional about my last day of treatment."
Jeannie was greeted with cheers and claps after walking out of the treatment room on her final day of radiation therapy.
A sight she won't soon forget.
"When I walked out, they were all there cheering for me - every one of them that was there that day," Jeannie said. "They have all just been so wonderful, so when I rang that bell, there were a lot of emotions - scared, happy, grateful."
With her radiation therapy complete, the next phase of Jeannie's cancer treatment is beginning hormone therapy, under the direction of Dr. Mark Hermann of Grand River Medical Group.
As a proud breast cancer survivor, Jeannie is looking forward to doing the things she loves, such as volunteering at Finley Hospital, gardening and spending time with her family.
After going through a breast cancer diagnosis, Jeannie now has a special outlook on life.
"I'm looking forward to living a life of gratitude with a very bright future," Jeannie said. "I take each day and look at it as a blessing. I've made it this far, and I plan to make it a lot longer. I know a positive attitude has gotten me this far, and it hasn't been easy."
Finley Hospital and the Wendt Regional Cancer Center have a special place in Jeannie's heart, as she is a valued volunteer in the Sunshine Circle Gift Shop.
As a Sunshine Circle volunteer, Jeannie works in the gift shop at Finley Hospital and previously rounded to patient rooms with goodies from the gift shop.
"I love helping people," Jeannie said. "That is why I love volunteering at Finley Hospital and giving back. Finley Hospital is my hospital and my everything. All of the ladies I have a chance to volunteer and work with truly are wonderful."
When she isn't a patient at the Wendt Center or a volunteer at the Sunshine Circle Gift Shop, Jeannie is known as grandma or "Nono" to many.
A wife, mother of two, and grandmother of four, Jeannie loves her family, which she considers to be her biggest achievement in life. One special person in her family is her husband, Joe, who has been her source of support and strength throughout her cancer diagnosis.
"They are my whole world," Jeannie said. "My husband drove me to every one of my treatments. He was my biggest supporter throughout all of this."
In addition to her family, Jeannie has been overwhelmed by the support and prayers she received from friends and a special group of ladies in her life - her fellow Sunshine Circle volunteers.
"I had so much support from family, friends, neighbors and especially the Sunshine Circle," Jeannie said. "They sent me special messages of care and support, which are still being received to this day. Prayer chains were started immediately by many of my friends, and I am a big believer in the power of prayer."
After experiencing the compassionate care at the Wendt Center, Jeannie knows her choice for where to receive cancer treatment was exceptional.
"If you ever need someone to support you through a journey for any type of cancer, you will never be sorry for choosing the Wendt Center," Jeannie said. "They are the ones who will take care of you, hold your hand through it all and be your biggest support team, always. All of the days I came here for radiation, I kept thinking this is where I need to be."
To learn more about radiation therapy at the Wendt Regional Cancer Center, call 563-589-2468 or click this link.