His wife says he was the picture of health, exercising and eating right. He had to be to keep up with their family’s active life. But even being head of a healthcare system doesn’t mean you’ll never get sick. Mike Wallace, CEO and President of Fort HealthCare in Fort Atkinson, learned that lesson when he felt a lump in his neck at work one day.
At first, Mike and his doctor thought the lump might be related to some dental work, so they tried a course of antibiotics. When that didn’t work, more tests followed, then the diagnosis: T-cell lymphoma, a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Mike and Kristin’s initial shock gave way to optimism and determination. Mike was grateful the lump was where it could be found early. Being diagnosed with Stage 1 cancer means that Mike’s treatment can be more effective than if the disease had progressed further unnoticed.
Since undergoing treatment, Mike has a new perspective on the patient experience, and a new appreciation for the role his organization plays in the lives of patients, their families and the community. The support he’s received because of sharing his illness with his coworkers and the community has only bolstered his belief that he’ll beat his cancer.
He feels a closer connection to the mission of Fort Healthcare and the importance of support and giving people reasons to hope. Hear how Mike’s journey as a patient has changed his outlook on his job and his future.