‘Do all the good you can’
Husband’s illness inspires Marner’s effort to bring cancer services to Fort Dodge
Editor’s note: This feature first ran in a special
publication called Hometown Pride, featuring people and organizations from Fort Dodge and the surrounding area who are working hard for their communities.
In 1995, RaeAnne Marner’s husband, Dr. Mark Marner, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer.
To get him the treatments he needed, the Fort Dodge couple had to travel to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, on a weekly basis for two months.
That’s because, at the time, Fort Dodge didn’t have a cancer treatment facility.
So in the years that followed, RaeAnne Marner, who has 30 years of nursing experience, made it one of her priorities to bring those services to Fort Dodge.
“I kind of promised myself that if everything went OK with Mark, I would do what I could to bring oncology or cancer services to Fort Dodge,” RaeAnne Marner said. “And that’s why I chose that endeavor.”
Mark Marner had his last treatment in March of 1995. He’s been cancer free since that time.
RaeAnne Marner was the director of oncology services and Pain Management Center at Trinity Regional Medical Center from 2002 to 2012.
“With all my years of nursing practice, leadership roles, and team management strengths, I was asked to help establish a comprehensive cancer center at Trinity Regional Medical Center,” she said. “This was an opportunity for me to help hundreds of local cancer patients receive quality cancer care in Fort Dodge.”
In 2012, Marner’s vision was realized when the Trinity Cancer Center, 802 Kenyon Road, opened.
“Seeing patients coming in for treatment and getting through that treatment was very powerful,” she said. “That goes to my philosophy in life of helping others. I have a saying by John Wesley that I have used over my 30-year career: ‘Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, for as long as you can.'”
Trinity has been able to provide its cancer patients three of the four primary cancer treatments, according to Marner. Those include surgical services, chemotherapy and support services.
Marner, who has lived in Fort Dodge for 38 years, said it took many years to see the project come together.
She was part of a group called Commission on Cancer.
Prior to her efforts, an attempt was made in 1992 to secure radiation therapy services in Fort Dodge. But the application was denied by the State Health Facilities Council.
Another application was submitted to the council in November 1999. She said the application was denied again largely due to the objections of other medical facilities and due to the council feeling that it was duplication of services.
“A third application to the CON council was pulled from the agenda in April of 2003 at the opinion of our legal counsel,” she said. “Finally, after much collaborative efforts with Mary Greeley Medical Center and the McFarland Clinic in July 2010, the council approved our joint efforts and approved the move of the Webster City linear accelerator to Fort Dodge.”
Then, in the fall of 2012, the comprehensive cancer center opened for the community of Fort Dodge and surrounding area.
“Any patients here that required care for cancer had to travel significant distances to receive care,” Marner said. “And now they can come here and all of their services are available.”
She credited the work of Trinity employees, physicians and volunteers from the community for their efforts in helping get the cancer center up and running.
In addition to her work with the Trinity Cancer Center, Marner served as the co-chair for the capital campaign for the UnityPoint Hospice — Paula J. Baber Hospice Home.
“During my years as a hospice nurse at Trinity Regional Medical Center, I recognized that there was a need for a place where individuals with life-limiting illnesses and their families could go for care and support at the end of life,” she said. “Through generous contributions from members of the community, the reality of this was accomplished in 2009 with the completion of the Paula J. Baber Hospice Home.”
Marner served as manager of Trinity Home Health and Hospice from 2000 to 2002. Prior to that she was a staff nurse at Trinity for 10 years.
She retired from nursing in 2013, but has remained an active volunteer in the community.
Marner became the first woman to serve as chair on the Friendship Haven board in 2014.
“My connection with Friendship Haven has been very rewarding because I can use all of my medical background,” she said.
And she continues to volunteer at UnityPoint and at the Paula J. Baber Hospice home.