“I am grateful:” Five years cancer free, Wauwatosa woman now paying it forward

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WAUWATOSA -- Five years cancer free, a Wauwatosa woman is paying it forward. She's making sure other patients feel the support and love she felt while fighting cancer.

Aurora St. Luke's

Aurora St. Luke's

The clinic at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center is where Jolyn Haugen was treated for breast cancer. She now hands out gift cards to patients, hoping they feel supported in their fight -- because it's support that got Haugen through her battle.

"I wanted to not just survive for myself, but to survive for all the people that were there pulling for me, " said Haugen.

Each one of the gift cards Haugen hands out is for a local restaurant or cafe, because food was Haugen's comfort when she was going through her cancer treatment. Each gift card is for $5 and she has handed out hundreds of them.

Donations came pouring in after a Facebook post to friends and family. She says in recovery, and throughout her fight, she's never felt alone.

"I can't express how much I am grateful for them and for all the people in my life who have stood beside me through everything I went through," said Haugen.

One of those people, Haugen's surgeon, admires her will to fight and join others in their struggle.

Jolyn Haugen

Jolyn Haugen

"She came up with a unique and joyful, wonderful way to do that. She's an amazing woman," said Wendy Mikkelson, breast cancer surgeon at Aurora St. Luke's.

Haugen hopes the small gesture will make a difference.

"Just so they know that somebody is thinking of them and praying for them, and hoping things get better for them," said Haugen.

Haugen says because her effort was successful, she hopes to do something similar to celebrate her future anniversaries of being cancer-free.