Shawnee Mission Faces: Darcie Bertholf, health care worker and mother of student-athletes

Like many families facing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Darcie Bertholf and family have found ways to cope. 

A sports-oriented, health-minded family with children in private school, the Bertholfs have managed to find some sense of normalcy. For the past month, they’ve enjoyed social-distanced sports and fitness activities at the Lenexa Rec Center, the 3&2 Baseball Club and other local club sports. Her children are back in school full time at Holy Trinity in Lenexa (like all other schools, Holy Trinity went remote this spring).

A Shawnee native and St. Thomas grad, Darcie Bertholf spent two years at the University of Kansas before completing radiology school at Research Medical Center. Her late aunt, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30, inspired her to pursue a career in mammography. She’s a mammographer at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission. Fact: October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Darcie lives in Lenexa with her husband, Todd Bertholf, and their children Will and Ellie, and the family pup, June.

It’s just kind of been our motto: We try to find the gray in the black and the white. It’s been more pronounced with COVID, and just the climate these days. But just with life in general, there’s always a middle ground that I feel like we need to try to find.

When all this started in March, we were in San Antonio for spring break. It was kind of getting started when we were getting ready to take off in the car, and we decided to go ahead and go.

So the whole time we were there, both of us every morning would wake up and be like oh my gosh, did we make the wrong choice? Do we need to leave? I would wake up at 4 in the morning and start packing the bags, and my husband would be like what are you doing, and I’m like we gotta drive back, we gotta go.

Then I’d fall back asleep, morning would come, I’d think a little bit more calmly. While we were driving back from San Antonio, we got the news that we were not going back to school.

Obviously, it all went up in the air here at the beginning of August. We didn’t know what our school was going to do. Nobody really did.

We made do at the end of the last semester. The kids, they did OK. But I knew if we went virtual that we would have to have a different plan for the fall.

My husband has a job that he was able to stay home on the two days that I work, so we were very lucky in that respect. I didn’t get to stop going to work, which was good in one aspect, because we kept our income, but at the same time, the kids were home and needing some direction for school, so that was kind of difficult, but we managed.

Luckily, within a few days, they came out and said we are going to go in person. So far, it’s been wonderful. We’ve not had any problems.

Getting back to some routine was huge for all of us. They needed it. I needed it. I needed to get back here (at the Lenexa Rec Center), for not only my physical health but my mental health. I definitely put on some quarantine fluff, kept the wine industry afloat (laughs). Again, it was hard, like by going back, am I being vain? But it’s also for my mental health, so no.

Same thing with the kids’ sports. I definitely feel like getting the kids back in their sports has been huge for their physical health and mental health, just getting them back doing the things they love doing, getting them outside, getting them moving.

My Ellie is playing volleyball. The kids are wearing masks on the bench. Coaches have to have their masks on. No one besides the girls are allowed to touch the ball. Again, they’re trying to put things in place so we can continue like normal, but in a safe manner.

As with a lot of things with COVID, there are parents with… other views. That’s been kind of difficult to navigate because we all have our comfort levels. It would just get frustrating as a healthcare person, especially, and as a daughter of a cancer patient, that people have fought so hard to do something so simple.

My dad’s going through treatment, so for me I wanted masks, whatever it was that I could keep myself and others safe. That’s been a source of frustration for me, is some people’s lack of compassion.

It’s a small task to make sure that you’re keeping people safe. You’re not keeping them from just getting a cold, as much as some people might like to believe that. There are vulnerable people out there that we need to keep safe, and if it means wearing a mask all day long, 100% I’ll do that.

Same thing with the kids in school. So many people are like well my kid’s not going to wear a mask all day. Why? Why? Explain to your kid that wearing your mask is hopefully going to keep you healthy and keep others healthy, so they don’t take germs home to their family.

My kids, with my dad, they know the importance of it. They’ve not batted an eye to wearing a mask all day at all. Half of the time, they forget they’re wearing them and they’ll wear them all the way home in the car before they realize they still have them on.

They’re adaptable. This is a chance for us to show the kids how to live life with grace and compassion for others. It’s a simple thing to me, I don’t know why everyone has to make it so complicated.

And I think as a mom, being able to keep the kids happy and let them see their friends… it’s just another one of those layers of a mom issue that I never thought I would cross. Again, it’s just about finding that gray area. It’s continuing to live our lives, but doing so with caution and compassion.

Last night, I kept coming back to, just with everything, the politics right now, along with COVID, all of it together, we all just need to be meek and humble in our judgments of others but bold in our love for them. At the core, we are all the same. We all have the same worries. We all have the same concerns.

I’m sure nine out of 10 moms have woken up in the middle of the night or not been able to fall asleep ‘cause they’re worrying about some aspect of this. Just turn to each other and take care of each other.