Michelle Gephart is thrilled to have “kicked 2019 out the door.” In fact, she is still cleaning out her freezer of meals that friends gave her…they’re reminders of her diagnosis of breast cancer. Now just weeks following her last radiation treatment, she is grateful for the expert medical care she received and is looking forward to a great 2020.
“I was taken aback by the diagnosis of breast cancer,” she shared. “But when I met with Dr. Keto at the Mercy Health Comprehensive Breast Center, she was very kind and explained everything.” Michelle’s care plan included surgery to be performed by Jessica Keto, MD, FACS; chemotherapy under the direction of Thomas Gribbin, MD; and radiation oncology led by Derek Bergsma, MD, all at Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center.
Surrounded by an experienced care team, Michelle felt she received wonderful care. But for her, the comfort and pampering she needed on her toughest days came from another member of her care team — Cheri Hulst at the Boutique at Mercy Health.
“The team at Lacks Cancer Center is so nice. The doctors and nurses were encouraging, supportive and kind. I can’t say enough about how positive they were. But when you get this shocking and devastating news, you go through hard times, and you still need to pamper yourself,” she insisted. “Within the first few weeks of chemo, I asked about when I could expect to lose my hair. The people at Lacks Cancer Center gave me quite a bit of information. That’s when they mentioned the Boutique,” she added.
It was Cheri at the Boutique who brightened Michelle’s visits to Lacks Cancer Center.
Some patients, like Michelle, experience painful and discolored fingernails and toenails during chemotherapy. So, she scheduled a manicure or pedicure on days when she was already coming to Lacks Cancer Center for her provider appointments.
“Who knew you could have the spa services during your months of chemo! It was a great feeling.”
Male patients undergoing cancer treatment are also welcome to make appointments a manicure, pedicure or haircut at the Boutique. Some patients schedule these services during their chemo treatments. You’re there for hours anyway, says Michelle. It just makes sense.
“Cheri was so nice. What I love about her is that she was always on time, she understands when you are overwhelmed or exhausted, she is thorough, and she listens. I enjoyed being with Cheri. She was gentle and kind…and very good about educating me and encouraging me to take good care of myself.” Cheri even fitted Michelle for wigs and styled them for her.
Michelle is grateful that the medical community has come a long way when it comes to respecting and understanding what women go through with breast cancer. She also appreciates how much more insurance covers now than it did in the past. She is glad that she and other women can be fitted at the Boutique for post-surgical prostheses and bras too.
“Mercy Health understands what women need. You have it all right there — a way to give that comfort and pampering, which helps patients emotionally move through such hard times. I know It was a big boost and perk to me.”