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"Cancer Survivor Credits Mercy Integrative Medicine Classes with Helping Her Maintain Her Energy during Radiation Treatment"

Having lost both of her parents to cancer, Debbie S. was overwhelmed by the unexpected news that she had breast cancer. Fortunately, she found outstanding medical care as well as incredible support at the Mercy Cancer Centers.

“I went in for my annual mammogram on Sept. 29, 2010, thinking everything would be OK,” she said.

Less than a month later, following more imaging and a biopsy, she was diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer.

“I was so full of emotions that day,” Debbie said. “Fear gripped me, along with anger, sadness and worry. I exercise and try to eat well, so I was shocked – I was mad. I thought, ‘Why me?’ and I wondered what would happen.”

Not only did Debbie’s father survive prostate cancer only to later die of brain cancer, but she also lost her mother to colon cancer, and two of her brothers have had prostate cancer.

“I was very familiar with cancer,” Debbie said. “I saw what chemo and radiation did to my mom. I was scared to death when I started radiation after my lumpectomy. So, from start to finish, I was constantly asking questions. The staff at the Mercy Cancer Center at St. Anne was great – they were all so nice and knowledgeable and really eased my fears. I was a wreck at the beginning and had a complete meltdown the fourth day. I started crying, and a nurse and radiation tech sat me down and talked to me. They reassured me that it was going to be OK. I received compassionate, quality care.”

Debbie noted that every staff member she interacted with was “always smiling.”

“Their warm, caring attitudes always cheered me up,” she said. “And the center itself had a warm, comfortable environment, so I didn’t feel like I was in a hospital at all.”

Debbie underwent 33 radiation treatments between December 2010 and February 2011. A few weeks later, she began receiving Arimidex, which she will remain on for five years with the goal of preventing a recurrence of her estrogen-positive breast cancer. She has already taken advantage of a number of programs offered through Mercy Integrative Medicine and looks forward to sampling more.

“I participated in an exercise class called Healthy Steps as well as Fitness Etc.,” Debbie said. “My doctor said exercise would help with fatigue, so I jumped right into the classes. I think if I hadn’t, I would have been much more tired. Once I got going with them, the classes gave me energy.”

So much energy, in fact, that Debbie was able to continue at her job cleaning houses while undergoing radiation. She even resumed workouts at her regular gym while under treatment as well.

“I never really slowed down,” she said. “I took a nap in the afternoon, but otherwise I went about my life. The programs the Cancer Center offered really helped me do that. I also did chair yoga and music therapy, and I got massages each Wednesday while undergoing treatment. It was wonderful and really helped manage my emotions and stress, and I think it helped me sleep better. Getting involved with programs at the Cancer Center also helped me feel less isolated by being around other women going through the same thing and sharing what to expect.”

Debbie said she would not hesitate to recommend the Mercy Cancer Center at St. Anne to others.

“I have already told everyone how wonderful it was,” she said. “I’d recommend anyone going through cancer treatment to go to Mercy. I received wonderful care there.”

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