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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published January 24, 2008                                                         

 

MARNIE McHALE

GREW UP IN ELMHURST AS MARY NOREEN MCHALE • HAS SIX YOUNGER BROTHERS AND SISTERS • IS A ‘DESTINATION WALKER’ • ENJOYS FOLLOWING NATIONAL POLITICS AND TRAVELING • SINGS IN THE DEPAUL COMMUNITY CHOIR

   Marnie McHale has worked in several hospitals during her 32-year nursing career. But her favorite kind of nursing takes place in other environments. “I love working with people as close as they can get to where they live their lives. You view the illness from a different perspective.” McHale was hired two years ago as Wellness House’s program director to work with staff to make sure all the programs compliment each other. She also leads the Welcome to Wellness orientation session and the On the Mend support group for people who have completed cancer treatments. Many in the eight-week program are dealing with several issues: fear that the cancer will come back, friends and family who aren’t sure how to respond to them now that treatment is over, post-treatment side affects and decisions about what to tell new people who come into their life. “I think here at Wellness House we talk about healing the spirit and the soul,” McHale said. “Sometimes people’s spirit is broken by an illness like cancer and they’re trying to restore that spirit. I think you heal the spirit by empowering people with information or giving them tools to manage stress or through humor. I think that restores the spirit when you can have a laugh and you can enjoy something.” Sometimes laughter is the only thing that keeps people from crying endlessly about the loss they’re dealing with, she added. Coping with cancer is especially hard on people who don’t have the resources they need to manage their illness. “Maybe their support team is out of town or they’re sick so they can’t get here,” she said. “Sometimes you are challenged because you’re trying to watch people navigate the health care system. Sometimes you just have to be present with people during times like that. You know it’s hard for them and there’s nothing personally you can do for them.” Despite the many medical advances that have taken place over the years, a cancer diagnosis remains a life-altering event, said McHale, who has a master’s degree in oncology nursing. She works to help people find a way to manage the diagnosis and the fear that comes with it. “My real love is nursing where I’m talking with people and helping them with more the emotional aspects of illness,” she said. “That is why Wellness House is such a good fit for me.”

— by Pamela Lannom

 

Making a Difference is a yearlong partnership between
The Hinsdalean and Wellness House to increase awareness
about the organization, which works to encourage, educate and
emotionally support people working to overcome the effects of cancer.

 

 

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