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Living on Both Sides of Cancer Treatment

A compassionate, joyful soul, Kari Mueller has the unique understanding of what it feels like to be on both sides of cancer treatment.

Kari began providing care to the Medford community in 1997 – first as an EMT with Taylor County Ambulance, then at Aspirus in a variety of areas, most recently as a health unit coordinator (HUC) at Aspirus Medford’s day surgery and cancer/infusion departments.

“Being a HUC and CNA (certified nursing assistant), I’ve been blessed with amazing interactions with patients and families,” Kari says. “I truly love the challenge of health care and the ability to make a difference every day.”

On March 2, 2018, after self-diagnosing her abdominal pain for three years, Kari finally made an appointment to see her primary care provider. Blood work and a CAT scan revealed something she never expected – Lymphoma. That day she went from cancer caregiver to cancer patient.

Many things ran through Kari’s mind that day: “How can this be happening? Will I see my son’s wedding? How am I going to tell my husband, my kids, my parents? I felt contagious. I felt people would treat me different and I was not ready to die. I was scared beyond words. In the minutes, hours and days forward my life would never be the same.”

While going through chemo treatments, Kari was able to continue working on a part-time basis. Kari says the support from her Aspirus team was amazing. “It was comforting to know the nurses I worked with every day would also be there for my treatments, encouraging me, holding me through tears and being there when I was scared.”

Kari says it’s the patients though who really helped her fight. “Besides my coworkers, family and friends pushing me through each day, the patients I cared for are really the reason I made it through. At any time, I could look to them and knew we were fighting together.”

Blessed with an amazing support system of family and friends, Kari is a survivor. “Survivorship means you are alive to advocate for research, to help those who need help and to gain a better perspective on what life is really about,” Kari says. “Love each other, be thankful, never live with regrets, stay positive and most of all, never take one day for granted.”

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