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Thelma’s Aspirus Story: ‘Love just floats out of them’

When 87-year-old Thelma Cockrell of Beaverdam, Ohio went to the hospital for gallbladder issues in November of 2017, she knew right away she needed a second opinion. After telling her she was fine and that they “never found anything,” the doctor sent her home. That’s when she decided to make the temporary move to Calumet to live with her daughter and son-in-law, and be close to the “best specialists” at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital. It was a decision that saved her life.

Not only did her care team at Aspirus Keweenaw get to the bottom of her gallbladder issues, but they discovered she had colon and lung cancer. When she talks about her oncology specialist, Dr. Zuhair Ghanem, and her general surgeon, Dr. Michael McAllister, she uses words like “beautiful,” “awesome,” “kind,” “gentle” and “very, very intelligent.”

“I am blessed with this hospital and all of my doctors and nurses who work together like a charm,” Thelma said. “They’re professional to the end, but they’re all so friendly. Love just floats out of them. They care for everybody who comes here.”

While Thelma was in the hospital, she said, “Everybody who stepped into my room had a smile and wanted to help me in some way. Then, I got a beautiful card at home that was signed by everyone telling me best wishes, and that they missed me, but they were glad I was doing better. They’re all just sweethearts.”

Even the patient guides (Sandy and Faye) and outpatient infusion department nurses (Melissa, Stacy, Gail and Erica) tug on Thelma’s heart strings for “being such friendly, thoughtful and loving people.”

“They’re all angels. They call me by my first name and give me a hug. I’m not the least bit worried or scared like I should be because they all make me feel at home,” Thelma said. “That’s why I keep telling people, ‘If you’re going to be sick, or you have cancer, be here because you’re in the best hands.’”

Pictured is Thelma Cockrell and her great-granddaughter Willow. 

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