Going the extra mile

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 30, 2001

When it comes to helping others, the American Cancer Society believes one good turn deserves another.

Sunday, September 30, 2001

When it comes to helping others, the American Cancer Society believes one good turn deserves another.

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The Freeborn County Unit of the American Cancer Society honored those employers who have gone &uot;the extra mile&uot; in terms of helping employees overcome those hurdles during cancer treatment. The 13th annual Employer of the Year Award Luncheon was held Tuesday at the Elks Lodge in Albert Lea.

The American Cancer Society’s program honors those employers who do support their employees during a bout with cancer. The Employer of the Year Award is presented annually to employers for their exceptional measure of support and understanding to the employee who has been stricken with cancer.

&uot;We’re thanking people who have helped others with cancer, the understanding employers,&uot; said Madeleine Lundstrom, president of the Freeborn County Unit of the American Cancer Society.

Tep Christensen, employer of the year chairwoman, said, &uot;It’s devastating when a person is diagnosed with cancer. They have so many problems, plus employment concerns. We want to give employers recognition because they make it possible for these patients to concentrate on treatment.&uot;

Honored this year were Hayward Implement in the 1-9 employees category, Jensen Electric in the 10-99 employees category, and Albert Lea Medical Center in the 500 or more employees category.

Ken Krieg nominated his employer, Tom Nedved of Hayward Implement, for his support during his wife’s battle with cancer. &uot;He provided moral support, encouraged understanding among other employees, adjusted hours so I could facilitate her treatment and gave support to my family,&uot; Krieg wrote.

Irene Krieg was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in March of 1998. The disease process was dormant until August of 2000. From August to December 2000, periodic hospitalization was required for chemotherapy and radiation treatment. From Jan. 5 until her death on Feb. 15, 2001, she was hospitalized, requiring extensive treatment.

&uot;For the first 2 1/2 years, quarterly trips to Rochester were necessary for testing and evaluation. After her disease became active in August, it seemed like we were in Rochester more than we were at home. Every single request for time off, so I could take Irene to these appointments, was granted. On occasion, Tom would even say, ‘Get out of here. You belong in Rochester with your wife,’&uot; Krieg wrote.

Krieg said his seven co-workers showed tremendous support by asking for daily updates on his wife’s condition, calling, sending cards, visiting and never acting inconvenienced by his absences. &uot;I tried to work as many hours as possible, but when I couldn’t work they filled in for me. The greatest show of support was when Tom and some of my co-workers showed up in Rochester on the day of Irene’s passing when I needed that moral support. Out of respect for Irene, Tom closed the business on the day of her funeral and they all attended the funeral,&uot; he wrote.

When his wife became ill, Krieg had been employed at Hayward Implement for less than two years. &uot;Planting and harvest times are extremely busy at implement dealerships and I am sincerely grateful for Tom’s generosity through many of these seasons,&uot; he wrote.

Debra K. Johnson nominated her employer, Tim Jensen of Jensen Electric, for his support while she received cancer treatments. Johnson has been employed as a secretary with Jensen Electric since November of 2000.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in January of 2001. She had a lumpectomy, took chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and finished them on July 27, 2001. &uot;I now have neuropathy, and have just recently felt like I could return to work on a limited basis,&uot; Johnson wrote.

&uot;From the time that this started, Tim has been very understanding of my health and the limitations that it has placed on me. I have been allowed to work when and if I felt like I could. There has never been any pressure placed on me to return.

&uot;Tim, his wife and all the employees of Jensen Electric have been wonderful to me,&uot; Johnson wrote.

Sally Benson nominated her employer, Albert Lea Medical Center, for the support she received during her cancer treatment.

Benson, a registered nurse assigned to The Baby Place, is a breast cancer survivor. She also works as a &uot;floater&uot; as needed in other departments of the hospital.

&uot;I’m now through with chemotherapy,&uot; she said.

Benson said she was able to work fewer hours, or, if she was not feeling well, didn’t have to work during her treatment. &uot;I didn’t have to float when I was on chemo so I was not exposed to infection,&uot; she wrote.

Her employer sent flowers, support and prayers. &uot;I could talk to them anytime,&uot; she wrote.

&uot;They were very supportive. They helped with some people who were not happy about my floating and helped with all the paperwork for leave. They let me work when I could. They covered me so I could have radiation without losing work time,&uot; she wrote.

The Employer of the Year Award winners will be submitted to the Midwest Division of the American Cancer Society to be judged along with other state recipients. Division awards will be presented at the annual meeting to be held on Nov. 3 in Mankato.