Supporting Loved Ones, From A Distance

ThedaCare Patient Celebrated During Cancer Milestone

APPLETON, Wis. – When Forrest Clark was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year he knew his life would be different.

“When you hear the word cancer, your world changes,” he said. “I recognized this was a big moment for me and my family.”

What he never expected was how the COVID-19 pandemic would impact his journey. One thing was certain – his wife, Mary, family and friends would serve as his support system.

Clark went through seven weeks of treatment for esophageal cancer at the Regional Cancer Center. His treatment looked a bit different as visitors were limited, but that didn’t deter his network.

“I have people calling me all the time, checking in on me to see how I’m doing,” he said. “They let me know they care about me and want to know how I’m doing through all of this.”

Cancer Survivor News Post Couple Ringing Bell

That support carried through when it was time to finish his weekly treatments at the Regional Cancer Center. Plans were made for Clark to take part in the ringing of the survivorship bell, which is a ritual for many patients as they celebrate a milestone in their treatment. Many times family, friends and caregivers gather as the patient rings the bell.

Clark’s support system wanted to be involved in the celebration, and they knew it was important to adhere to social distancing guidelines. So they joined with signs of encouraging messages, standing 6 ft. apart from one another.

“When I turned around and saw everyone there behind me, I had tears in my eyes,” he said. “I cannot explain how much that meant to me.”

Pictures were shared capturing the inspiring moments.

Donna Boehm, ThedaCare Director of Cancer Care, explained how important it is to have a group of people to support patients in treatment during the COVID-19 response, and finding creative ways to show that support.

“Our patients are faced with ‘finding a new normal’ and adjusting to life after a diagnosis with a new perspective,” she said. “That continues as we are also adjusting to changes regarding COVID-19. It’s incredibly important to celebrate patients and families along the way, every chance we can, be it a clear scan, the end of a cycle of treatment or a final dose of chemotherapy. These are the moments that keep us all going.”

Clark is now planning for surgery soon and knows his team will be there with him, every step of the way.

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to a community of more than 600,000 residents in 18 counties and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals. ThedaCare has 180 locations including seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

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.