Ministry Good Samaritan Serves as Home Base for Merrill Man’s Long Cancer Battle

There are many different types of cancer and stages at diagnosis.

How it affects people and the treatment options available varies as much as people are willing to use the resources available to them in an urban city like Madison or Milwaukee or a rural community like Merrill.

For Richard Rasmussen of Merrill, his thirteen-and-a-half year fight with first kidney cancer and then with progressive Multiple Myeloma has seen many chapters, but one thing has remained constant; access to many of the services he needs close to home at Ministry Good Samaritan Health Center.

Under the watchful eye of Rezwan, Islam, M.D., a Marshfield Clinic Hematology/Oncology specialist on staff at Ministry Good Samaritan, Rasmussen has utilized his hometown hospital for much of the very specialized care that people in other parts of the state or country would have to travel hours to access.

“When you are sick, you don’t want to have to travel and I’m not sure I could have kept up the fight without access to these services right here in Merrill,” said Rasmussen.

Rasmussen’s experiences at Ministry Good Samaritan have ranged from simple lab draws to complex chemotherapy treatments, providing immunotherapy and coordinating complex cancer treatment plans. A few trips to the emergency department and inpatient unit have him familiar with nearly every aspect of the facility in one shape or another.

Last June he underwent a stem cell transplant at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield and a part of the follow-up care from that procedure, he visits Ministry Good Samaritan once a month for IV immunotherapy. Previously his treatment plans were more frequent, but he’s learned to take things in stride and appreciates the time he spends with staff members he calls a second family to him.

“Many of our patients tell us they like the family like atmosphere we have here,” said Cheryl Gross, a registered nurse in the Same Day Surgery Center and Oncology Clinic whose been on the staff at Ministry Good Samaritan for nearly 37 years. “We know that staying in their community for treatment and appointments makes a big difference for those families we see every week.”

Rasmussen has also helped his treatment by participating in research clinical trials with the hopes that what Dr. Islam learns from his treatment will help others down the road. Islam adds that Rasmussen has been an active participant in his treatment plan and he has kept his primary care and other specialists involved in the ongoing discussion.

“The patient-physician relationship is all about mutual trust and appreciation,” says Islam.

“We earn that appreciation in Merrill by working with our patients to provide what they need in an atmosphere where they can be close to family and friends who can help in their care if necessary.”

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