Redgranite resident, Callewaert, donates to ThedaCare Foundation in wife’s memory
Late in their marriage, Dennis Callewaert of Redgranite and his wife, Christine, worked as a team through a number of her health issues—rheumatoid arthritis, COPD, lung cancer, blood clots, immune thrombocytopenia, pneumonia and leukemia.
When it became clear that leukemia would claim her life, Christine and Dennis decided to have their civil wedding convalidated in the Catholic Church. “This was a bucket list item,” said Dennis. “I believe it kept her strong.”
Dennis and Christine’s Catholic Convalidation Wed-ding Ceremony was Nov. 29, 2018. Christine passed away less than two months later, on Jan. 23, 2019. Dennis wanted to honor Christine with a memorial gift. He chose to direct the memorial gift to the area that had helped them the most—the ThedaCare Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Group in Waupaca.
Christine had sustained radiation treatment for lung cancer on top of suffering COPD, and later developed blood clots, requiring twice-weekly exercise and monitoring sessions with the rehab group. The group is led by Stephanie Yenter, a registered nurse and cardiac and pulmonary rehab coordinator at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca.
“The 18-week session helped improve mobility, nutrition, and managed anxiety,” explained Dennis. “Christine received an additional 18 weeks of rehab following pneumonia.” In these sessions, the Callewaert’s continued to work together as a team. “It did a lot for me, too, because I learned more about Chris’s disease and I was a better caregiver because of it,” Dennis said. “The ThedaCare team deserved recognition and support for all the help and care they provided her.”
Through the generosity of Dennis, along with their family and friends, more than $1,200 was donated in Christine’s memory to the ThedaCare Foundation-Waupaca Healthy Neighborhood Fund, which supports a variety of patient care initiatives including the rehabilitation gym where Christine spent time working out.
“Christine loved baking cookies for Christmas and was an avid crafter, with a large crafting room full of supplies,” recalls Dennis. “She also loved helping her community.” She was instrumental in launching library crafting groups both in Redgranite and Wild Rose. Dennis has plans to invite her friends to come and collect yarn and crafting items that had belonged to Chris, while keeping other items of hers on display throughout their home. “I told her when she was dying that I would miss her, and I’ll always remember her, and that’s what I want to do,” Dennis said. “She’ll always be here in spirit, and offering this gift is a part of honoring her memory.”