Willmar woman's battle with cancer demonstrates the power of reaching out to others
June Boie is the honorary survivor for Kandiyohi County's virtual Relay for Life events. Her journey with cancer reflects her resilience and outreach to others.
When June Boie received the news that she had Stage 2B breast cancer in November 2015, “it was just a devastating feeling,” she said. “I couldn’t focus on anything else they said.”
Before Boie dealt with cancer herself, she had witnessed her mother's own battle with cancer; her mother defeated breast cancer about 20 years before Boie’s diagnosis. Boie said she had attended Relay for Life events for her mom a few years prior to her own diagnosis.
This year, she will partake in Kandiyohi County's Relay for Life virtual events as the 2020 honorary survivor.
After her initial diagnosis, Boie said her mother’s experiences shaped her choices as she went forward. “I didn’t want to go through the things that she did. So I waited until the end of January to have surgery, a double mastectomy, and after that I thought I was done.”
Sadly, the battle was not finished yet. “When they looked at the tissue in pathology they realized the tumor was actually two tumors,” said Boie. After that realization, she had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation.
Through this time, Boie, 55, said that one of the most difficult challenges was her lack of energy for everyday tasks. She noted that she had gone through resilience training, which contributed to her positive mindset and mental strength through the trials of treatment.
Because of her positive outlook and the supportive people in her life, her journey was made slightly easier. Her daughter stayed with her after the surgery to help arrange services and take care of things.
Other supporters included her coworkers at Rice Memorial Hospital where she works as director of critical and emergent services. “They were very understanding,” said Boie. “I was able to work as my health would let me, then after the treatments were done I gradually worked up to full time again.”
She said her coworkers reached out by setting up a dinner drop off, and by taking over some of her tasks and meetings.
By the end of summer in 2016, Boie completed her treatment of chemotherapy and radiation. “It was relieving,” she said. “I got to ring the bell at the cancer center and a lot of my coworkers and friends came in to see it, which was so meaningful.”
As Boie expressed her gratitude for her coworkers’ and friends' support, it was apparent that she practiced what she appreciated in others. Boie embodies this selfless support of others in her work, life and relationships.
Boie has been a fixture at Rice Memorial Hospital , providing and coordinating care for countless individuals. She has worked there for 31 of her 33 years in the healthcare field. She chose to pursue a nursing degree while still in high school, and has advanced in her field.
Within her career alone, she has the opportunity to be there for many patients as they go through difficult times of illness and ailment.
Outside of the workplace, she has trained her dog as a therapy dog to volunteer at the hospital. “I was aware of the program from working in the hospital, so when I recovered from my treatments it was something I wanted to do to be able to help others,” she said.
Boie said they often visited the hospital before the pandemic. Her favorite place to visit was the cancer center to “spread a positive message to those going through a rough time.”
Dog-lovers appreciated the gift of time, and it provided a way for Boie to chat with the patients and offer support and understanding through their difficult times.
‘Just be there’
Support of others is something Boie appreciates and practices in all aspects of her life. She explained that though it is not always easy to know how to help someone in their time of need, just “offering to just be there for someone” is always a powerful outreach.
During current times, this might look like a FaceTime call or a text to a friend. Outreach to the larger community is just as crucial, and the Relay for Life fundraiser provides that opportunity.
During this year’s Relay for Life fundraiser, donations have not been as high as previous years. It has been difficult during the pandemic, with only a virtual venue, to reach as many supporters.
“Money is still needed to support people with cancer and for cancer research,” said Boie. Financial and other forms of support are needed and appreciated more than ever.