January 21, 2019
Glenice Johnson chuckles at the memory of first joining the Sanford Thief River Falls Auxiliary. One day, a friend at church handed her a hospital auxiliary card and said, “I paid your dues.”
“I said, ‘Oh, fine. Thank you,’” Johnson recalled. “They didn’t have to convince me that they did wonderful things.”
Johnson dutifully jumped in, assisting the auxiliary’s efforts to support the local hospital, now the Sanford Medical Center, and the community.
A year later, she was invited to fill a seat on the auxiliary’s board of directors. It was a good fit for Johnson, who had recently retired after a 22-year career as a home economics professor.
“I think that was my friend’s plan all along,” Johnson said. “She would get me on by paying my dues the first year.”
It worked. Johnson has been an active member for years, serving on the local, district and state auxiliary organizations.
She was a driving force behind the auxiliary’s many fundraisers and special events. She helped rally members to manage the Sanford Thief River Falls gift shop, volunteer with meals on Wheels and award scholarships to local students pursuing a medical profession.
Johnson was also involved in one of the auxiliary’ efforts to raise funds for new infusion chairs at the Sanford Thief River Falls Infusion Center. With the help of Johnson and her fellow auxiliary members, more than $8,600 was raised to purchase two chairs in June 2017 and two more in the summer of 2018.
Johnson never imagined that she’d be one of the patients benefiting from those chairs.
A startling diagnosis
In the fall of 2017, Johnson was diagnosed with stage 3 uterine cancer.
While shocked by the diagnosis, she wasn’t worried. Johnson had already beat breast cancer two decades earlier. Plus, she personally knew most of the Sanford staff and trusted their care.
“I didn’t feel negative or think, ‘Why me?’ That’s just my nature,” she said.
The oncologists at Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo designed Johnson’s treatment plan and visited her regularly in Thief River Falls. She was also able to undergo chemotherapy at the Sanford Thief River Falls Infusion Center.
Over six months, Johnson spent many hours at the center, resting in the infusion chairs that the auxiliary had helped purchase. The new chairs, which have adjustable heat, massage and recline settings, as well as a tray to eat or read from, provided an important comfort during treatment sessions.
“I kind of kid, ‘Well, that’s why I had cancer. I needed to try them out firsthand so I could see how our money is working,’” Johnson joked.
The value of care, close to home
With so much of her care available in Thief River Falls, Johnson could remain close to the help of family and friends, and all of the activities she loves.
“I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” she said. “You don’t want to put everything on hold. I’ve got grandchildren in the area and all these organizations I’ve got to keep working for, so we can’t just put it on the shelf for a year.”
In July 2018, Johnson celebrated her final day of treatment. Looking back on her journey, she has a renewed sense of pride in the auxiliary and its members who support local health care and facilities like the infusion center. She now knows, firsthand, what a difference the generosity of volunteers and donors can make in the lives of patients.
Please consider supporting Johnson and more patients in the Thief River Falls area. Your gift today will help provide state-of-the-art equipment, specialized services and advanced training to ensure the very best care is available close to home.