Foundation Story: 'This Place is Unbelievable'

Brenda Rodzwell image

When Dan Rodzwell’s wife, Brenda Rodzwell, passed from pancreatic cancer, Dan made thanking the folks at Froedtert his mission.  During her stays here, Dan kept a list – a list of 43 people, outstanding caregivers whose lives touched Brenda’s.  The list included staff members from many departments, a host of doctors, nurses, dieticians, surgeons, researchers, secretaries, valet services, directors, and pharmacists - everyone whose smiles and tender care touched Brenda and Dan’s life.

He set out to tell Brenda’s story and went “all the way to the top” – eventually meeting with Cathy Buck, president of Froedtert Hospital and Bill Petasnick, then CEO for Froedtert Health.  His message?  In Brenda’s words, “These are good nurses, good doctors.  I can tell.”  Dan wanted Froedtert’s leadership to hear from him what the compassionate care from a “great team” meant to him and Brenda. 

Brenda was an RN herself, a geriatric nurse who, according to her husband, “loved being in the trenches.”  She knew good care when she saw it.

When Brenda was ill, she told Dan, “You need to do right by Froedtert because they’ve done right by me.”  And he did that.  To pay tribute to Brenda he established the Brenda Lee Rodzwell Fund for Pancreatic Cancer.  This gift to the Clinical Cancer Center will support patient-focused services, research, and staff education in the area of Pancreatic Cancer.

When Brenda and Dan visited Froedtert they brought gummy bears.  Favorites of Brenda’s (she especially liked the red ones) they would leave them with the many staff members they met along the way.  It’s a tradition that Dan continues today.  Dan says, “It’s a small thing to do to thank the men and women of Froedtert Hospital who make this the best hospital in the world.”

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