Sheri Atteberry’s mother and aunt are survivors of breast cancer who see much more meaning in their birthdays than just the cake and presents. Because of her family history with cancer, Atteberry and her relatives have learned to be proactive about their health which is why they are still here celebrating each birthday.
Coinciding with National Cancer Survivors Day, Mercy Hospital Lebanon Auxiliary hosted the Cancer Survivor Birthday Party on June 4 in honor of all those who have won their battle with cancer and those who are still fighting. Guests enjoyed the fellowship of other survivors and their cheerleaders and had the opportunity to ask questions of Mercy cancer experts.
Approximately 240 oncology patients are seen each year at Mercy’s Curry Cancer Center in Lebanon, and Elizabeth Jones, RN, OCN, director of oncology infusion outpatient services, is grateful she chose her “rewarding” career path and looks forward to honoring her patients on Monday.
“Patients with cancer have a different outlook on life; they know what’s important,” said Jones. “They don’t sweat the small stuff.” Jones feels privileged to be invited into their lives and the lives of their families. “A lot of our cancer patients come in on a weekly basis, so a relationship is built that goes far beyond a nurse/patient relationship.” She said her experience as an oncology nurse has helped her grow as an individual.
In May 2012, Mercy also installed a digital mammography unit. Systems like this have been proven to significantly increase breast cancer detection rates. Being hands-on with her preventative care, Atteberry was the first patient to use the digital mammography unit in Lebanon, and said knowing the technology is available right there at home is a comfort. “I’m hoping now that we have the advantage of digital technology, we can hopefully catch something sooner.” It’s especially a concern since she has two daughters, and worries about whether they will face a breast cancer diagnosis in their future.
As Mercy observed National Cancer Survivors Day and celebrated its patients’ triumphs on Monday, Atteberry said it always reminds her of the loved ones in her life. “It’s a blessing that treatment kept the most important people in my life here with me.”