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"Mercy Cancer Center Plays Santa Claus to Patient"

When Justin V. arrived at the Mercy Cancer Center at St. Anne* for his daily radiation therapy treatment in December, he was incredibly surprised to be presented with a Christmas tin filled with gift cards, cash and a note.

The staff of the Mercy Cancer Center at St. Anne* selects a patient to adopt at Christmas each year, and this year, they selected Justin.

“I was between jobs when I was diagnosed,” Justin said. “And when I got the diagnosis I was told I wouldn’t be able to work for 12 months. I have been unbelievably tired since beginning chemotherapy and radiation. So yes, money was tight, but I am sure there are plenty of others out there who could have used that gift as much as if not more than me. It was so unexpected. I don’t even have words for how touched I was. It just kind of stopped me dead in my tracks. It’s probably one of the nicest things anyone has done for me.”

Among the donations for Justin’s gift, the majority of which were contributed by Cancer Center employees, was a very special contribution from a young girl Justin had never met.

“The year before, we had adopted a teenage patient at Christmas,” explained Pat Brzuchalski. “Shortly before the holidays this year, we received a call from her mom, asking if we planned to adopt a patient again this year. I told her we were, and she said her daughter wanted to contribute. I thanked her for the thought but said that was not necessary. I didn’t want to take her money, knowing she is so young and not working. But, they came in to the Cancer Center in person shortly after that and gave us $50 towards Justin’s gift. She said, ‘It made such an impression on me when you did this for me that I just wanted to be a part of it this year.’”

While Justin was surprised by the gift and even more so when he learned of his fellow patient’s contribution, he said this generosity is in keeping with the overall approach to care in the Mercy Cancer Center.

“All of the staff are absolutely exceptional,” he said. “Everyone was willing to go out of their way to help. All around, everyone seemed happy to be there and seemed to love doing their job. They really wanted to help people, they were nice, and everyone played an integral role and worked well together as a team. Their positive attitudes, care and compassion made it a lot easier to be there. St. Anne is just absolutely an amazing hospital – I had nothing but good experiences there. And when I was diagnosed at St. V’s, on the Neuro unit, everyone was great. Even the people who just drew your blood were amazing.”

Justin also received assistance through Mercy’s Hospital Eligibility Link (HELP) program in getting approved for Social Security and Medicaid.

“Karen Andrews and John Dornan did exceptional work for me,” Justin said. “All around, my experiences with everyone at Mercy have just been outstanding.”

*The Mercy Cancer Center at St. Anne is a department of Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.

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