by Ellen Bartyzal
Last week, Minnetonka Girl Scout troop 18014, a group of first-fourth graders, carried out their Take Action Project by giving back to the patients and staff at Minnesota Oncology’s Plymouth Clinic. The Daisies, Brownies and Juniors all donated personalized cards and boxes of cookies remaining from their annual Girl Scout Cookie Sales.
The idea came from eight-year-old Penny Sasik who has a very personal connection to the clinic—her father is a patient.
Paul’s Diagnosis and Joint Care
In December of 2015, Penny’s father Paul was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor.
“When it comes to having a diagnosis, it was actually a good thing and now it is a bit of a relief,” Paul said. “I had been struggling for many many years with really a kind of mystery ailment.”
After all of these serious ailments, Paul’s diagnosis explained that he has a rare form of a rare cancer which resulted in a stage IV gross-like tumor, a tumor he had probably had for many years before it was discovered.
“It was causing all sorts of havoc internally with my liver, my esophagus and my pancreas,” Paul said. “The diagnosis actually happened down at the Mayo Clinic and it took some intense world-class activity to come up with it, to make it happen, and they did.”
A strong partnership between providers at Mayo Clinic and Minnesota Oncology brought Paul to the Plymouth location for additional care. Now, they manage his care as a team—Mayo Clinic seeing Paul quarterly and Minnesota Oncology managing his routine care.
Paul’s Experience with Minnesota Oncology
After years of receiving care at Minnesota Oncology, Paul and Camille both said they most appreciate the personal attention given to Paul from his care team in Plymouth.
“Having small offices, they get to know you, I get to know them—they are very personal,” Paul said. “I have spent time here just hanging out and chatting with the nurses and the patients, and things like that. I met very interesting patients from all over the world.”
Now using oral treatments rather than his previous chemotherapy infusion treatments, Paul even joked that he occasionally misses his regular trips to the clinic, sitting in their “comfortable, vibrating, heated chairs” and visiting with the nurses and other patients.
“It’s been great doing business, as it were, with them. It was a really good experience,” Paul said. “It really makes me glad that I am where I am with the people that I am with, if I have to be. If you’re going to have cancer anywhere with anybody, I would definitely recommend Minnesota Oncology.”
Take Action Project: Giving Back to the Community
Since the care team at Minnesota Oncology has cared for her father for some time now, Penny wanted to support their clinic as part of her troop’s Take Action Project.
The Girl Scout’s Take Action Project focuses on service learning which helps the girls understand and address the roots of a problem in their community by developing a project which continues addressing the problem, even after the one-time event is over.
“It’s about making our community a better place,” Penny said.
Penny has only been a Girl Scout since March, but she did not shy away from the opportunity to speak up and share her ideas when the troop began brainstorming ways to give back to the community. She explained her dad’s story to her troop and suggested that they donate cookies to the people who helped care for him, the staff at the Minnesota Oncology’s Plymouth clinic.
Her idea was then put to a vote.
“We were voting, and then most everybody stood up!” Penny exclaimed.
The girls all agreed that donating their cookies to the clinic was a perfect act in spirit of their project. They also decided to donate care packages of cookies to the military in support of one of the girl’s brother who serves, and to a local hospice where one of the girl’s parent works.
“I was really proud of her…but it wasn’t super surprising because it is kind of in her usual nature to be like that,” said Camille Sasik, Paul’s wife and Penny’s mother. “I’m glad that it went over so well in her troop. It was just so sweet of her to think of wanting to do something nice for everyone for helping Paul.”
“That's what makes this project so incredible,” said Joyce Jendro, Girl Scout Troop 18014 Leader. “The girls came up with the idea and how to put it into action. This is a truly Girl Led project.”
Joyce said the girls’ Take Action Project is the last key to their “Leadership Journey” which concludes with a Brownie Quest Award. The award is meant to teach the girls how to use their skills and values to impact their surrounding community.