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Lorraine's Courageous Story Lorraine

Lorraine Irwin knows how to take care of herself.

Since childhood, she's been a responsible, reliable caregiver for her family and, later, her husband.

Now 89, Lorraine lives quietly in her small, tidy house in Victor. She meets friends for coffee, still drives (but not after dark) and goes to church regularly. And she still knows how to make good choices - including her decision to go to Mercy Medical Center's Hall-Perrine Cancer Center for treatment when she found out she had breast cancer.

Lorraine pays attention to her health, especially her annual exams.

"I never missed a mammogram," she points out. "I've had too many friends who have died of breast cancer."

So, when a mammogram in the summer of 2008 showed a tumor in her right breast, Lorraine took it seriously. She was frightened, she says, and cried. But she knew the right thing to do was undergo treatment - at Mercy.

After that mammogram, the radiologist gave Lorraine a booklet on cancer that helped outline treatment options. Then she met with Dr. Janet Merfeld, radiation oncologist and medical director of Mercy's Hall Radiation Center who helped Lorraine make a treatment decision she could feel comfortable with.

The tumor in Lorraine's right breast was removed surgically. She stayed overnight at Mercy, appreciating the comfort and quiet of the private room after surgery.

Then, she faced radiation treatments. Fortunately, Lorraine was able to be treated at Hall Radiation Center with the state-of-the-art High Dose Radiation (HDR) system, an effective treatment option for breast cancer that allows preservation of the breast.

Lorraine underwent HDR with the patented MammoSite technology. This allows for a more precise targeting of the cancer, limiting exposure of surrounding tissues and expediting treatment, reducing treatment time on average from six weeks to five days.

What really moved Lorraine was Mercy's next gesture.  Rather than travel home each day after treatment, Mercy staff arranged for her to stay in one of Mercy's rooms - private suites designed with cutting-edge safety measures and amenities that add comfort to the stay.  Shorter treatment and convenient care allowed Lorraine to get treatment stress-free; let someone take care of her for a change.

Her best friend Denise was with Lorraine through all her appointments, including the twice-daily radiation treatments over five days. Those treatments left her tired, she admits, and it took a while for her to regain her energy, as was expected. But she's glad she did it.

She laughs appreciatively as she recalls that when she finished her radiation treatments, Dr. Merfeld gave her a rose and a pin to wear, the Mercy staff clapped their hands and rang a bell to celebrate her completion.

"I'm grateful to have come through it so well," Lorraine says.

Lorraine's recovery is complete; at her follow-up examination in July 2009, everything was fine. She still shakes her head and smiles when she recalls the care she received at Mercy.

"I couldn't believe what they did for me," she says. "The staff was so nice, so kind to me. Everything worked out real well. If you have to be in a hospital, it's a great place to be."

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