Lori Berquam, vice provost for student life and dean of students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, removes a cap to reveal her balding head on June 27, 2017. Berquam recently pasted the midpoint in her chemotherapy treatment for a breast cancer diagnosis, and is feeling optimistic that brighter days are ahead. (Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison)

Dear Campus Community,

From the bottom of my heart – thank you.

From the time, I announced my breast cancer diagnosis in April, through the first half of my chemotherapy, I have been humbled by your support. The outpouring of thoughtful cards, fashionable hats, supportive emails, and cheerful text messages from across campus has been overwhelming. Your encouragement, thoughtfulness, and compassion are truly incredible and I am forever grateful.

As I enter into the second half of my chemotherapy treatments, I do so with energy and optimism, and with a strong team of friends, family, Student Life colleagues, and campus partners beside me. I’ve gathered strength from hearing your stories of how cancer has affected you and your loved ones. Thank you for sharing your challenges and victories. Your powerful stories are true gifts for me and offer strength as I push through the last three treatment sessions.

I’ve always considered myself to be a strong person, able to face challenges with dignity and grace. As I reflect on the first three treatments, I realize that cancer doesn’t care who you are or where you’ve been. Cancer shows no mercy – but it has shown me how lucky I am in life, to be supported and surrounded by gracious and caring people like you.

Honestly, the treatments have not been easy. There are good weeks and then tough weeks. At times, I’ve needed to adjust meetings and schedules to accommodate these highs and lows. Thank you to those who have been flexible and understanding throughout the process.

Silver linings can be tough to find, but I’m trying. There’s the money I’m saving on shampoo and conditioner. And the time I save each morning when I don’t need to comb my hair. And the truly impressive collection of headgear I’m building. All positives!

Another one is that I realize how lucky I am to have a job that I love so much. A job that I’ve been able to keep doing despite what cancer has thrown at me. A job I plan to keep doing for a while!

Last week officially kicked off summer 2017 and our division began welcoming over 7,000 new students to campus through Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR). I’ve been giving closing remarks at SOAR and I’m excited to continue to meet our incoming students as they transition to life as Badgers. I love their enthusiasm and openness for becoming members of our campus community.

I challenge our incoming students to become resilient and push through adversities to find their passion at UW-Madison. And with your support, I too will continue to be resilient and push forward. Fall will be here before we know it. So, get ready – I’ll see you soon!

On, Wisconsin!

Lori Berquam
Vice Provost for the Division of Student Life,
Dean of Students