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"I Always Left with a Smile"

Doris, a breast cancer survivor, admits there were plenty of days she did not want to go to radiation therapy at the Mercy Cancer Center at St. Anne*, but she always made an effort to smile when she did.

“I hated radiation,” she said. “It was painful and made me tired and irritable. But, I developed a relationship with the staff at the Mercy Cancer Center to where I felt comfortable saying, ‘Today’s not a good day; I don’t feel like being here.’ They would talk to me and encourage me to laugh, so I always left with a smile.

“From that day forward, I would come back with a smile on my face and ready to embrace the staff with a positive attitude and my signature smile. My attitude was so awful at first, but the staff was so sweet that I’d try to smile for them. One of the staff members said it was refreshing to see a patient come in with a smile on their face even while going through treatment. Because of that, I tried to have a positive attitude every day – I encouraged them, and they encouraged me.

” Doris was diagnosed at a non-Mercy facility but had surgery at St. Anne in January 2010, followed by chemotherapy (not at Mercy) and then radiation therapy at St. Anne in July 2010. She completed radiation in September 2010 and now is in remission. She began participating in the Healthy Steps program offered through the Mercy Cancer Centers while she was undergoing chemo and continues to take the class today.

“I went all through chemo and radiation and still go every Thursday,” she said. “I am faithful! I have lymphedema in my breast, and the deep breathing really helps. The arm exercises also help me strengthen the muscles I need to use when I have to massage myself. It’s not a high-impact workout, but you do sweat sometimes. It all depends on how you are feeling. On your good days you can push yourself. When you need to, you can sit down but still participate.

” Doris says she would recommend the Mercy Cancer Center without hesitation.

“I believe you have to have a connection with the people who are treating you, and you have to have a positive attitude yourself,” Doris said. “Everyone at St. Anne showed concern about my healthcare and how I was feeling and did what they could to help. They were respectful and knowledgeable. If I asked a question someone couldn’t answer, they found the answer and got back to me quickly. As a patient, you really want someone who pays attention to you and cares about what you’re going through. I found that at Mercy.”

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

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