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"Patient Grateful for Care Received"

Linda E. was shocked when she was diagnosed with breast cancer last fall. But, she says, the physicians and staff of the Mercy Cancer Center at St. Anne* helped her get through one of the most difficult experiences she has ever faced.

“I went in to Mercy Women’s Care at St. Anne for my routine mammogram in August, and I was surprised when they ordered a follow-up ultrasound, because there is no history of breast cancer in my family,” Linda said. “I got a call back on the ultrasound and had to have an excisional biopsy. When the results came back that it was malignant, I kind of went into shock for a while. The plan at the time was to do a lumpectomy and radiation seeds, but my doctor, Candy Butler, wanted to make sure there was no cancer in any other area of the breast, so she ordered an MRI, which showed another, very tiny tumor in another quadrant of the breast, so then I was told I needed to have a mastectomy and chemotherapy. I had the mastectomy and the beginnings of reconstructive surgery with Dr. Colville at St. Luke’s in December, and then, following some recovery time, I began chemotherapy at St. Anne with Dr. Al-Kahlili. They have a wonderful oncology department there.”

As Linda struggled to accept her cancer diagnosis, she also lost her mother, with whom she had been very close, so she especially appreciated how kind and compassionate everyone at Mercy was. Adnan Al-Khalili, MD, Medical Oncologist, spent a couple of hours during his initial visit with Linda to explain what she could expect from treatment.“Then, he brought me to the head nurse,” Linda said. “She told me, ‘Don’t be afraid. All of the nurses here have 20 or more years of experience in oncology nursing, and chemotherapy is not what it used to be. It is gentler, and there are all sorts of drugs to manage side-effects now.’ She spent an entire hour with me explaining how everything worked and reassuring me. I had six chemo treatments, with one every three weeks. Everyone was just great there – the nurses and the staff were absolutely wonderful to me. They were very caring and supportive, and Patti called me after every treatment to see if I was OK.”

Patti Beach, RN, is a Nurse Navigator at the Mercy Cancer Center at St. Anne. Her job is to serve as a consistent resource to cancer patients during their treatment and to help ensure any potential barriers to care are easily surmounted.

“Patti came to talk to me every time I came in for treatment,” Linda said. “It really helps to have someone in your corner when you’re going through something like this. Patti was wonderful. Her personality was perfect for a job like this. She is very warm and caring and genuine. She even talked with me about my mother’s death and how I was coping with that. She definitely treated me holistically. Everyone I encountered made me feel comfortable and cared about. During chemo, you get cold, but they would bring me warm blankets. There was also a chaplain who came to visit and pray with me, and they had a massage therapist available, which was really nice.”

Linda finished her chemo treatments in May.

“Now, I am undergoing IV treatments that are supposed to help prevent a recurrence,” Linda said. “I will continue with that every three weeks until next January. It is not nearly as involved as chemo, and the side effects are nothing like those of chemo. I also am on an oral drug for the next five years. I can definitely say that cancer has changed me. My brother, who battled cancer several years ago, told me cancer changes a person, but I didn’t understand it until now. It makes you really aware of your own mortality, how vulnerable you are and also how interconnected we all are. We need to care about each other. When someone else faces this I will understand their fear and anxiety, and I hope God will use me to help. At Mercy, they were there for me, and I intend to be there for others when the need arises.”

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