“I relish the elaborate, gourmet cooking competitions that my sister and I undertake each Sunday night.”
My sister and I, who are very close, engage in an intense desire to outshine each other in the kitchen. Every Sunday, we take turns seeing who can whip up the tastiest, most complicated meal, which are oftentimes days in the making. And yet, as much as we look forward to these evenings, we were forced to cast aside our epicurean ways this past fall when a health crisis loomed large.
I remember watching the ultrasound screen of my breast and knowing I was in trouble. As I left the larger hospital where I’d undergone a mammogram and ultrasound, I called Jennifer Tepper, a nurse navigator at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. I explained my situation and she went to work. She handled everything—steering me through a next-day biopsy and then consultations, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Even more important than her guidance, however, was that she served as a supportive friend and confidante when I really needed one.
I work at the hospital as Director of Patient Financial Services, and have been highly impressed by the professionalism and caring nature of the health care staff since I joined the organization. Everyone went above and beyond the call for me. The Patient Financial Services team of 30+ associates surprised me by wearing pink shirts emblazoned with the words “Shawn’s Supporters” every time I had chemotherapy. And the doctors and nurses in the outpatient oncology and radiation departments made me feel like I was visiting friends, rather than coming in for a medical treatment. These non-extraordinary, and yet very powerful events, made all the difference in the world to me. They gave me hope and fortitude.
I never second-guessed my decision to undergo cancer treatment locally. With my stage of cancer, the drug protocols are standard across hospitals. I know other cancer patients who were treated at bigger hospitals, and by far, my experience at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital was vastly superior. I’m happy to report that a few short weeks after my chemo regimen ended, my sister and I reinstated our Sunday night dinners. While we enjoy the cooking, it’s really our family spending Sunday evening together that we enjoy most.
At Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, a diagnosis of cancer is met with a wide range of state-of-the-art treatment options and a compassionate and personal treatment team. Board-certified medical oncologists, surgeons and radiation oncologists, as well as nurses specifically trained and certified in cancer care, rehabilitation therapists and nutritionists coordinate your care. They reach beyond their specialties and work together as a total support team that includes the patient and their family as partners in the decision-making and treatment process. By coordinating an integrated approach, we ensure that the patient’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met—and that every effort is made to eradicate the cancer and manage or slow the disease’s progression. We believe that our personal approach to cancer care results in patients who feel more supported, more acknowledged, more hopeful and, most important, more prepared to return to their active lives when treatment is completed.