Chip Borkenhagen, who grew up in Aitkin and moved back here from the Brainerd area a few years ago, shares his story of care and recovery from colon cancer at Riverwood Healthcare Center. After graduating from Aitkin High School, he went on to Minneapolis College of Art and Design to pursue a career in graphic design. With his wife, Jean, they owned and operated an advertising agency, design studio, and published the Lake Country Journal Magazine. He continues doing graphic design and book publishing today. After a year of intensive treatment and recovery, he is again enjoying his passions for gardening, small farming and outdoor exploring, oil painting and photography.
“After having stomach aches for a number of months, a colonoscopy with Dr. Shawn Roberts, general surgeon, at Riverwood in Aitkin revealed colon cancer.
Everyone was quite clear with communications on what to expect, and how to mitigate my body’s negative reactions to the cancer treatment. But the real difference was the genuine caring. I truly felt an authentic sense of compassion from all the service providers at Riverwood.
From Dr. Joselito Burgos, internal medicine, to Dr. Roberts and the surgery staff, and to Dr. Antonio Fontelonga and the oncology and infusion teams, everyone treated Jean and me with utmost respect and concern. It became quite apparent just how much these people are dedicated to their professions.
With Oncology Care Coordinator Jan Hegman as our “go-to” person, she made things much easier for us. If she didn’t have the answers we were looking for, she found them for us.
So much of the care experience is the psychological support that was always shown to us, helping us through those dark days. There’s no way around the down sides of cancer treatment, but Riverwood’s support all along the way made my cancer journey safe and successful.
Through it all, our family surrounded me with love and concern. We got plenty of support from our kids, but my true savior was my amazing wife, Jean. Through thick and thin, over 37 years, she has been my rock.
Initially, I was concerned about seeking care at a small town hospital, but now I would not consider going anywhere else (except for physician-directed specialty situations). Aitkin and our surrounding area can be very proud to have this facility and its staff, offering a high level of skill paired with caring attitudes.”
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