St. Charles Woman Receives Special Send-off at Northwestern Medicine Cancer Center Delnor
By Kim WatermanCancer Care/Oncology June 12, 2017
Northwestern Medicine Delnor Cancer Center recently hosted a “graduation” ceremony unlike any other. As Jane Kawecki, of St. Charles, walked out of her last chemotherapy session, she was greeted with a round of applause and celebratory sirens courtesy of the Pink Heals fire truck*. Kawecki’s son, Dave Kawecki worked with staff at the Delnor Cancer Center in Geneva to organize a visit by the Chicagoland chapter’s signature pink truck and a traditional red fire truck from the Geneva Fire Department.
With a shocked look on her face, Jane exclaimed, “For me, are you serious?” as she rushed out the door to give her son a big hug. Jane’s family and the doctors, nurses, social workers and other staff that cared for her gathered around for hugs and high-fives. The group then signed their names and messages of hope on the pink rig.
“It was such an exciting surprise. I wasn’t expecting it,” said Jane. “Everyone was so supportive at the Delnor Cancer Center and now I’m ready for the next step.”
Pink Heals Chicagoland, which was started by Downers Grove paramedic/firefighter Joel Mains, is part of a national not-for-profit that was initiated to support women battling any type of cancer. Pink fire trucks and police cars are driven across the country as a moving remembrance to people who have or are currently battling cancer.
Jane’s nurse Denise Martell, RN, says it’s important to celebrate the completion of treatment.
“When the last treatment does finally arrive patients can feel overwhelmed, excited and relieved to finally be finished; and in looking back most say that the time went fast,” said Martell. “We celebrate with a small cake, a card and the ringing of the bell.”
Jane’s celebration was extra special thanks to Pink Heals. The highlight of the “graduation” was a quick ride in the fire truck around the Delnor campus for Jane and her young grandchildren, Brooklyn and Hailey.
It was the swan song for the Chicagoland Pink Heals truck as it, and its driver Mains, are headed into retirement. Dave Kawecki, who is a firefighter and paramedic in Oswego, and his wife Bridget are hoping to start a Pink Heals chapter for the Far West Suburbs.
"I have witnessed firsthand the incredible strength and courage it takes for our patients and their families to fight against cancer,” said Shannon Brown, an oncology social worker at Delnor Cancer Center. “The visit by the Pink Heals truck was a boost of positive energy for our patients, family members, and staff.”