DANVILLE — The loss of a loved one is painful for any family. Losing someone after a long battle with cancer can be especially hard. For one family in Vermilion County, that nightmare became a reality.
Jackie Wallace battled lung cancer for six years before her death on Feb. 15. Her family recalls spending hours at the Provena Regional Cancer Center, and even though the days were often filled with the painful reality of a losing battle, the Wallace family made visiting the cancer center a positive and even spiritual experience.
Jackie’s husband Larry said one of the things that brought her the greatest joy was watching the wildlife from the infusion room where she received chemotherapy.
The room has an entire wall of windows that showcase a beautiful piece of natural habitat. On any given day while receiving treatment, patients can see birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and deer feeding and playing.
Wallace said, “She would be so sick, but would get the biggest smile on her face watching those squirrels and deer out there.” It helped her stay positive during her fight with stage four lung cancer.
Now that she’s gone, her family wanted to make sure others receiving treatment and their loved ones who visit the cancer center can share the same uplifting experience.
The Wallace family donated funds to the animal feeding area to buy plenty of seed and feed for the animals for years to come.
Her daughter, Rachel Milner, said she knows her mother would be happy to know her family is donating to help take care of the animals. She added, “We miss her terribly, but words cannot explain how happy we are to know that someone sitting in that room can now experience the same joy she did watching those animals.”
Jim Anderson, executive director of the Provena United Samaritans Foundation, accepted the donation along with Dr. Jo-Mel Labayog, medical director of the Regional Cancer Center. Anderson said, “You can’t replace what they’ve lost — a wife, a mother, a grandmother — but I think for them to be able to honor Jackie this way certainly helps them cope because they know they’re giving to something she loved so dearly.”
Jackie leaves behind her husband, Larry; three daughters, Rachel, Jessie and Shawna; and their son, Robert, along with 10 grandchildren.
Jackie also will be honored by her family later this spring on one of the memory bricks that line the walkway in the Path of Inspiration Garden immediately outside of the Regional Cancer Center.