Essentia Health-St. Mary's Foundation Helps Community Members Ring in Hope at the Detroit Lakes Cancer Center

Harriet is all smiles after ringing the new bell at the Essentia Health St. Mary’s-Detroit Lakes cancer rehabilitation and therapy center. In addition to funding the new celebratory bell, the Foundation supports care programs and facility enhancements.

patient ringing cancer bell

For more than 10 years, the Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Foundation has supported people-centered programs and advancements at Essentia Health St. Mary’s-Detroit Lakes cancer rehabilitation and therapy center.

Thanks to generous community members, more than $67,000 has been donated to help upgrade the facility. This includes new, comfortable chairs, where people sit for multiple hours while they receive infusions; updated pumps, poles and other essential equipment; and aesthetic improvements, like a calming new wall mural that depicts the beauty of Lakes country.

Most recently, donors funded a bell for people to ring in celebration of treatment milestones and recovery. Over the years, ringing the bell has become a common occurrence in cancer centers across the United States. Here in Lakes country, our neighbors receiving care at Essentia Health St. Mary’s-Detroit Lakes are excited about the new addition.

“This bell is for everyone—patients, their families and their friends. For some, ringing it signifies beating cancer. For others, it may be to commemorate a different moment, like an improved scan or even just a good day,” said Harriet, a local resident who has been undergoing treatments at the center.

“My twin brother was diagnosed a year ago with colon cancer, and I have a video of him ringing the bell in Fargo. I was present for another woman’s celebration; and when she was done, she wanted to ring it again! I’m glad we now have one here. It will help uplift our spirits.”  

On February 1, 2024, Harriet was one of the first people to ring the new bell—a moment she’ll never forget.

“It was awesomely overwhelming to see everyone who showed up to watch me ring the bell and celebrate the end of my treatment. There aren’t enough words to express the emotions I feel,” Harriet shared.

In addition to supporting facility enhancements, the Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Foundation raises funds for cancer care programs that support the holistic well-being of patients. These life-changing initiatives and compassionate gestures include support groups, warm lunches at the center, gas cards, grocery cards, care packages, wigs and head scarves.

“Wigs can cost upwards of $400. It’s a blessing to be able to provide custom options, at no cost, for our patients. And living in a rural area, many people travel hours each month for treatments. With gas cards, we can help alleviate that burden,” said Kelle Johnk, Cancer Center Operations Manager III for Essentia Health’s West Region.

“We couldn’t provide our complete care without the support of the Foundation or our community partners. We are so grateful for their generosity and collaborative approach.”

If you’re inspired to support cancer care programs at Essentia Health St. Mary’s-Detroit Lakes, please contact Cara Frank at [email protected] or call (218) 847-0867. You can also make a gift on the Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Foundation donation page.

How to Make an Online Donation

Visit our Give a Gift page and select from our list of Essentia Health campaigns and local foundations.

More Opportunities to Give

Learn about other organizations that support care at Essentia Health:


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