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"Cancer Patient Receives Excellent Care"

Colleen F's story about her battle with colon cancer is surprisingly upbeat – thanks to the excellent care she received at the Mercy Cancer Centers. Following a colonoscopy, Colleen’s surgeon referred her to Adnan Al-Khalili, MD, a Medical Oncologist with Mercy Hematology-Oncology Physicians, and Rajender Ahuja, MD, a Radiation Oncologist. Both physicians see patients at the Mercy Cancer Center at St. Charles.

“My first visit went smoothly, with back-to-back appointments,” Colleen said. “But then, unfortunately, I found out they weren’t covered by my health plan, so I had to shop for new doctors. I found one at another hospital’s clinic, and my experience there compared to St. Charles was terrible. Everything just felt wrong – from the doctor’s attitude to the environment. Then they dropped the ball and didn’t get me into treatment in a timely manner, so I called St. Charles back. Luckily, it turned out that while Dr. Ahuja wasn’t covered in my plan, Dr. Al-Khalili was – so luckily, I was able to return to Mercy for care.”

Colleen, who had stage four colon cancer, was one of the first patients at the new Mercy Cancer Center at St. Anne* when it opened in June 2008.

“I got an appointment and got started with chemo treatments right away,” she said. “I did chemo for seven months and was there for two days a week almost every other week. I never dreaded going there – of course I knew I would feel pretty miserable after the treatments, but the treatment days themselves were actually good days. The center itself is gorgeous. It is a very relaxing place to spend time. I absolutely adore Dr. Al-Khalili, who was very compassionate and positive. I liked his approach of taking things one step at a time. The nurses there were all very attentive and personable, and I forged friendships with them. The Chaplain, Carolyn, was very nice too – we talked about anything and everything. The days just flew by when I was there. We made the best of what could have been a very bad situation.”

Colleen underwent her final round of chemotherapy on Dec. 24, 2008.

“I then had a PET scan, and it was clean,” she said. “I still have to have surgery to remove a small piece of my colon, which I will do very soon. I am back to work now as a Service Executive for AT&T, and I’m feeling terrific, with no problems at all. Looking back, I know how lucky I’ve been – I really tolerated chemo pretty well. The side effects were nothing more than a nuisance to me, and I didn’t even lose my hair. I really believe that mind and body are linked, and I am sure that the excellent care I received for both, combined with the positive, caring atmosphere at Mercy, contributed to my having such a surprisingly good experience with my cancer treatments, and the healthy outcome that I was hoping for.”

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

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