One woman dealt with a pandemic and a cancer diagnosis, all in the same six months.
The story’s beginning will give you goosebumps.
Diane Feist, Edgeley, N.D., chose Jamestown Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department for her care in March. She’d felt pain in her abdomen and experienced issues with her liver. The ED team asked for a CT scan from JRMC Radiology, which is standard practice.
What wasn’t standard were the results.
The images showed spider-like dots – dots that require action.
Feist only knew of her breast cancer because Dr. Madhusudhan Reddy caught it reading the CT scan of her abdomen.
“We’re trained to see incidentals like this,” Dr. Reddy said. “Even if we’re looking at the abdomen, we’re trained to look elsewhere. I saw this and it bothered me. I thought it was important to follow-up.”
Because of Dr. Reddy’s diligence, the wife, mother, grandmother and daycare provider got a six-month head start on her treatment.
“My doctor told me to get those checked out right away. My next mammogram wasn’t until August, so I’m glad I found out when I did,” she said.
Once she received her diagnosis, Feist acted quickly and aggressively. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy (surgically removing both breasts) in April. From there, she met with Dr. Jeff Wiisanen at Sanford Health’s Roger Maris Cancer Center for her first chemotherapy treatment.
JRMC partnered with Roger Maris to open the JRMC Cancer Center in 2019.
After her first visit, she learned she could continue to receive all the care she needed, closer to home. Dr. Wiisanen even travels to JRMC each month.
“I’ve been telling people how awesome it is here,” Feist said, saying it’s a calming environment with an awesome team including Oncology Nurse Practitioner Laura Bond and Registered Nurses Garret Hillius and K.C. Robison.
Though any cancer journey is complicated and scary, treating cancer during a pandemic is especially challenging.
“It was hard for me to drop her off at the hospital for surgery,” said her husband, Steve. “I couldn’t even go in with her for her procedure.”
Despite both the pandemic and the cancer diagnosis, Diane never closed her daycare, which cares for five children ages 2-6.
“We talked about closing and Steve was worried. However, we have amazing families. Whenever a child had even the littlest sniffle, our families kept their little ones home,” she said.
Through it all, Diane said her family felt support from the entire Edgeley community. More than 75 vehicles drove by their house for a surprise Prayer Parade in May.
Her family says she is pretty heroic, especially her children Kelsey, Seth, Jordan and Cole. Kelsey and Seth, attended Diane’s graduation.
“As funny as this all sounds,” Diane said. “This has been a good experience. It has made me a better person. It has made me stronger in my faith. It’s life-changing for sure.”
She’s so grateful, she’s convincing her friends from out of state to receive their care here as well.
“JRMC is definitely a destination for care,” she said. “I can’t say enough good about it.”
Diane is the ninth person from the JRMC Cancer Center to ring the graduation bell. The bell is important, because it was a gift to the hospital from the Marsha Leigh Espeseth family. Marsha Espeseth died from cancer in 1987. She was 34 years old. Her husband and grown children donated the bell in her memory, so people today could ring the bell that she never could.
And though she is the ninth to graduate, she is the first to use the on-body Neulasta. The Neulasta is a little matchbox-size pack that attaches to the belly. It’s stimulates the growth of white blood cells, fighting infection and rebuilding immune responses.
In its first year, the JRMC Cancer Center saved 244,000 miles of travel. Now that individuals can receive this kind of care close to home or even at home, JRMC expects to save even more.
“Our mission at JRMC is to exceed expectations and be THE difference in the lives of those we serve. This is one way to do that,” said JRMC President & CEO Mike Delfs.
For Diane and her family, graduation day was a happy, tear-filled day.
“I’m lost for words about how happy I am,” she said. “I hope I can put this all behind me.”