Cancer Control Month at RCH: RN Williams helps patients with infusions after fight of her own in 2013

‘It's nice to help them through their journey and make things as comfortable as possible’


ROCHELLE — April is National Cancer Control Month. Rochelle Community Hospital’s infusion services department offers cancer patients different types of chemotherapy along with hydration and adjunct therapy, RCH Manager of Outpatient Services Tracey Busby said. 

“We'll administer IV chemotherapy,” Busby said. “We'll do oral chemotherapy. We do injectable chemotherapies. When they're here, we try to offer comfort and take that extra step, so it's not just about the treatment. We try to connect with them and have a more holistic approach. We offer financial programs that can help cancer patients. We also can network with wigs and hats for people that lost their hair. We can help to link them up with medical equipment or special undergarments or prosthetics.”

Busby said she wants cancer patients in the area to know that they don’t have to have a doctor at RCH to receive treatment there. With a current shortage of specialist physicians, cancer doctors may be in Rockford, Chicago or at the Mayo Clinic. RCH offers the ability for patients to get care closer to home by having doctors send those orders to RCH, where its doctors review the information and sign off on the orders.

“Our pharmacy is involved too,” Busby said. “We can get pretty much any kind of drug here. I think people don't know that. Not just cancer treatment, but people can get anything done here with a doctor's order. Patients need to know they can advocate for themselves, and I think that's really important especially if they have certain restraints on transportation or time. People should know that they don't have to venture so far from home and have that worry about being so far away. I want patients to know that they have a choice.”

RCH Senior Infusion Nurse Donna Williams, RN, has serviced patients whose doctors have been all the way in Chicago or at the Mayo Clinic. She said patients enjoy not having to travel a longer distance, along with the more intimate atmosphere at RCH. She knows from more than a professional perspective what RCH can do for cancer patients, because she underwent chemotherapy there herself after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. 

Less than two weeks after her diagnosis, Williams underwent surgery. She then went to her oncologist and was told she’d have to undergo chemotherapy. She worked in a different department at RCH at the time and was unaware it offered chemotherapy. Once she found out it did, she told her doctor she wanted to do it in Rochelle. 

“And that's what I wanted, because I worked here,” Williams said. “I live in Rockford five minutes away from a hospital. But I chose Rochelle. The experience is different. Everybody here is so friendly. You don't get that at the bigger hospitals. I did have my first dose of chemo at a bigger hospital. It's a long day of getting shuffled around and you get your chemo and go home. Here, you come in and you're already preregistered and we register them right in our unit and go over their vitals and medications. We order their labs. Everything is done. They don't have to move out of that chair unless they want to.”

Williams said that for her, it was more inviting and comforting to get her chemotherapy done at RCH. She now enjoys treating patients that are in the same position she was once in. 

“I love it,” Williams said. “It's always great when they have a good outcome. But with cancer, not everybody does. It's nice to help them through their journey and make things as comfortable as possible for those patients. You just want them to have the very best.”

Williams continued to work while she was undergoing chemotherapy years ago to support her family as a single mother. She touted RCH’s support of her, along with the financial assistance program it offers patients. 

“We do whatever we can for the patients here,” Williams said. “We offer the services that cancer patients need. And when we work with them, we just talk to them. If they want to talk about their diagnosis or what they're experiencing. We always let them know what to expect in their journey with things like side effects. We do what we can to make it a little more comfortable for them.”

Support group

The Rock River Center offers a cancer support group led by one of RCH’s RNs, Teri Dickey. The group offers a network of comfort and encouragement. Attendees can connect with people in a safe place of support and recognition. The general support group is for those currently in treatment, post-treatment, and their caregivers. The group meets on the fourth Wednesday in February, May, August & November from 2-3 p.m. at Rock River Center at 810 S. 10th St. in Oregon. For more information, call Rock River Center at 815-732-3252. Everyone is welcome to attend the free group.