COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update Learn More

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to help us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO

Breast Cancer: Marcia

Cancer Care
“I still pray for the family who donated the organ. Without their generosity and the hard work of my nephrologist, Dr. Leither, I wouldn’t be here today. I am so grateful.”

Comfort, convenience and collaboration eases breast cancer journey

Four years after her husband died from leukemia, Marcia O’Konek, of St. Cloud, received a kidney transplant. Throughout dialysis and recovery, Marcia still worked as a nurse educator in surgery to support her two children, ages 5 and 9. When reflecting on this time of her life, one would expect to hear about her struggle. Instead, Marcia beams gratitude and strength.

“I still pray for the family who donated the organ. Without their generosity and the hard work of my nephrologist, Dr. Leither, I wouldn’t be here today. I am so grateful.”

Eight years later, Marcia was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy and received chemotherapy. Her treatment went well and she was back to good health for the next 20 years. Recently, through a self-breast exam, Marcia, 70, discovered a lump. The biopsy showed the cancer was back. Care Coordinator Amy Stolt, RN, called Marcia to deliver the news and inform her of Coborn Cancer Center’s new multidisciplinary cancer clinic available for breast cancer patients.

“This new process was less overwhelming, much more comfortable and very educational,” Marcia said. In just one sitting, Marcia met with her care coordinator, surgeon, geneticist and oncologist. “I can’t imagine anyone more kind or thorough than my oncologist, Dr. Ufearo. We went over everything ahead of time. I felt prepared. I knew what to expect. Everything was taken care of so calmly and clearly. It made such a difference.”

The surgeon explained how they would be removing both breasts and offered reconstruction to Marcia as an option. Marcia kindly declined reconstruction and replied with laughter, “I’ve always hated bras.” Marcia liked how everything took place in that one visit. She wanted to take care of it right away and that’s just what this new program allowed her to do. She scheduled her surgery for that Monday.

After losing her hair, Marcia was offered complimentary caps and wigs. “These were donated — I just can’t believe the generosity,” she said. “I still go out for lunch with my friends. This hasn’t stopped me at all. I wear my wigs and hats and I just love it. I don’t care what anybody thinks. At home, I just go bareheaded. I have a very nice smooth head,” she joked.

Marcia’s positivity and cheerful spirit remained unhindered throughout her journey. She’s thankful to feel healthy and enjoys reading, embroidering, watching ball games and spending time with friends, family and her four grandchildren. She smiles and says, “If I wouldn’t have had this outstanding treatment and care, I wouldn’t be here today.”