Chicago's first lady back in wheelchair

April 19, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Mrs. Daley arrived in a wheelchair Monday night when Northwestern Memorial Hospital unveiled a new cancer center in her name.

It was a brief ceremony but one packed with emotion. The mayor shed a few tears as Chicago's first lady spoke from the heart.

The first remarks from Mrs. Daley were a reference to comedienne Gilda Radner.

"I believe it was she who said, 'it's always something,'" said Mrs. Daley.

Her Gilda Radner, as she calls it, came Monday morning when she felt pain in her right leg, a little more than a month after she had a titanium rod placed in it. Her femur bone was weakened by radiation treatment for a tumor in her leg.

"This was anticipated and that's why we had placed the rod several weeks ago," said Dr. Steve Rosen, Mrs. Daley's doctor.

But Monday night, Mrs. Daley wasn't about to let a little pain get in her way. The mayor wiped away tears as a standing room only crowd listened to the woman whose fight against cancer has inspired so many.

"When people walk into this center for women's cancer care, which now carries my name, a fact that has honored me more than anyone will ever know, I feel certain that they will receive the utmost care possible," said Mrs. Daley.

The new center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital offers one-stop shopping for women. In addition to chemotherapy rooms, women can get acupuncture or try on wigs. All of it is now named not after a donor of millions of dollars but after a woman whose gift has been her inspiration.

"She is a totally remarkable woman, brave and just a fabulous lady," said Meta Burger, Lurie Cancer Center Advisory Board.

Monday night's ceremony was carefully controlled. The media was roped off and warned not to ask any questions of either of the Daleys.

Mrs. Daley's doctors say she just went through a re-evaluation and everything appeared to be remarkably stable.

Maggie Daley was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. In 2006, she underwent surgery to remove another tumor in her breast. She has already more than tripled the average life expectancy for patients in whom cancer cells have spread beyond the breast and lymph nodes.

Maggie Daley was diagnosed with bone cancer a year ago in April of 2009. She underwent a series of radiation treatments for a tumor in the right leg in December. And in early March, a titanium rod was inserted in the affected leg to strengthen it so she could walk with a crutch.

The rod apparently did its job because the fractured bone reportedly remains in place. Dr. Rosen said the issue for now is mainly comfort.

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