Rhinelander woman stays in the pink for October
Denise Weibel attends one Green Bay Packer game per season. Last weekend was that game; she not only witnessed a great win over the Carolina Panthers, but perhaps even better, Denise was able to add to her ‘October Shrine.’
The shrine is very pink. The “committed to the cause” towel she, along with everyone else at the game received is a perfect addition. Pink and October are special to Denise, because she is a breast cancer survivor of nearly two years.
“I had my regularly scheduled mammogram on November 9, 2012,” Weibel recalls. “And by Thanksgiving that year, had two more mammograms, an ultra sound, a biopsy and a cancer diagnosis.” And if that sounds like a flurry of appointments, it would be only days later that Denise had surgery to remove one breast and 18 lymph nodes.
“It is so important to bring someone, other than your spouse or significant other to the appointment, someone who can listen carefully and ask questions,” she said. “At my first appointment with the surgeon there were four or five of us in the room.” That group of friends has helped each other through some rough times, many of those involve cancer.
“We have been friends forever,” Weibel says. “And we are closer now that we have driven each other to chemo appointments and doctor appointments. We’ve gone through a lot together.” And they have laughed a lot together.
For instance, several of them would walk up to the chemo desk with Weibel and place their “cocktail” orders. “We called the chemo room the cocktail lounge,” she explained with a laugh. “The nurses played along. I always asked for my usual, a Bloody Mary. But we never did get those drinks!”
Maybe it was the laughter, maybe it was luck, but Denise made it through seven chemo treatments without once getting sick. She lost her hair, but no nausea. The only symptom of the treatment was neuropathy pain in her feet, which is what made her stop the “cocktails.” Next up was six weeks of radiation, five days a week. But with her friends, she made it.
To thank her friends, Denise purchased a brick around the pond behind Ministry St. Mary’s Hospital in Rhinelander, commemorating their help and friendship. The brick simply states: Angels Gwen & Leah, Michelle & Pam.
Denise, and her husband Heavy, who twice fought prostate cancer, are not a couple to shy away from the spotlight. They both want to help others who have questions and are new to the cancer diagnosis. They even told their stories at the James Beck Cancer Center’s Celebration of Life in August. Life is something to celebrate, according to the Weibels, and not to be taken for granted.