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Carolyn Helf, a Rush nurse who helped start Wellness House, dies at 76

A former nursing colleague of Carolyn Helf’s said, “She was such an upbeat person.” (March 6, 2012)

A former nursing colleague of Carolyn Helf’s said, “She was such an upbeat person.” (March 6, 2012)

Early in her nursing career of more than four decades at Rush University Medical Center, Carolyn Wessel Helf was called to treat a 17-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with testicular cancer.

The teenager was understandably angry and depressed, and Mrs. Helf spent hours each day building up his spirits, trying to get him to believe he had a future.

More than a decade later, the young man returned to the hospital with a gift for his nurse, an ornate mantle clock.

“He wanted to give her a gift after all those years, because, as he told her, she had given him ‘the gift of a lifetime — the gift of time,’” said Mrs. Helf’s daughter Kristin Risner. “He said he was so angry back then, but that she had given him hope.”

Mrs. Helf, 76, who was instrumental in the founding of the Wellness House in Hinsdale, died Saturday, Feb. 25, apparently of a heart attack, in her Westchester home.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

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