Shawna Bodien at the Sanford Joe Lueken Cancer Center.

Survivor: Shawna Bodien

September 17, 2019

Shawna Bodien was a busy mother of six, juggling her home life with a demanding career as the events manager at the Sanford Center. She never expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer at just 43 years old.

“My children made me stronger,” Bodien said. “I needed to beat cancer for them.”

Bodien found hope in the Sanford Joe Lueken Cancer Center. The new cancer center, the largest and most advanced in northern Minnesota, had just opened five minutes from her Bemidji home.

The new cancer center opened in September 2018, bringing coordinated and comprehensive cancer care, enhanced technology and expanded services together, under one roof. The cancer center offers services for every stage of the cancer journey from diagnosis to treatment to survivorship.

Bodien’s diagnosis came following a routine mammogram. The screening showed a lump Bodien might never have found herself.

“About 50 percent of breast cancer patients are diagnosed with screening mammograms,” said Dr. Ellie Chaloub, Bodien’s oncologist. “Without that, a lot of patients would miss the possibility of catching their cancer early when it is easily curable.”

Bodien started 16 rounds of chemotherapy just a few weeks after the new cancer center opened. She found a welcoming environment and enjoyed cozying up next to the fireplace with a coffee from the bistro while waiting for her treatment to start.

“It meant a lot to come here, especially as a mom,” Bodien said. “My youngest is 8 years old, so traveling would’ve been really tough on him. I was so grateful when I found out that I would be able to do everything here in Bemidji.”

One thing that didn’t change with the new building was every staff member’s commitment to putting the patient first and caring for the person, not the disease.

“My experience with all of the staff here has been awesome, starting from the receptionist when you walk in,” Bodien said. “The nurses and Dr. Chaloub were awesome.”

After finishing chemotherapy treatment and three weeks of radiation, Bodien received the all-clear. She’s now cancer-free and recently celebrated another milestone – marrying her love, Gary.

The Sanford Joe Lueken Cancer Center wouldn’t be here today without generous gifts from community members who dreamed of a new era of cancer care. Because of their support, family, friends and neighbors now have access to the most advanced cancer care our region has ever known.


Your impact

Join the fight against breast cancer today! With your support, we can accelerate breakthroughs and save and improve lives of breast cancer patients across your region.

To make a donation or find other ways to get involved, visit sanfordhealthfoundation.org/edith.