Cherie Kennedy's cancer journey started with a routine physical and annual mammogram screening. It was during her diagnostic mammogram that she got the news no one wants to hear - a biopsy was needed to confirm a breast cancer diagnosis.
When it came time for the biopsy and surgery, Cherie was thankful to see a familiar face from her earlier visit to Finley Hospital's Radiation Department for her mammogram. That familiar face was Sondra Schumacher, a sonographer.
"She was the tech with the doctor the day of my biopsy and was there the day of my surgery," Cherie said. "On that day, I was anxious and scared. It was such a relief to see Sondra's smiling face when they wheeled me into the room. It felt like I had an old friend in the room with me."
After being officially diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2020, she had a decision to make - where she would go for cancer treatments. After hearing about the Wendt Regional Cancer Center, the choice was clear.
Cherie came to the Wendt Center for treatments starting in May and finished in mid-June. Throughout her cancer journey, Cherie remembers the comprehensive cancer care she received.
"They treated the whole person by not just focusing on the cancer," Cherie said. "They focused on my whole health - talking about nutrition, exercise and also the importance of keeping a positive attitude. It'd be easy for them to treat with radiation and nothing else, but they don't. They treat each and every patient as if they are the only patient they have."
At the Wendt Center, patients have access to a variety of support services, such as nurse navigation, genetic counseling, oncology rehabilitation, support groups, nutrition counseling and other initiatives, such as specialty bras for breast cancer patients, educational resources and patient assistance.
"The staff takes care of the big and little things like the skin creams and specialty bras," Cherie said. "You can't measure those things from a data standpoint, but they are the things that make a big difference. I love those inspiring, painted rocks! I have a nice collection of them to remind me of the kindness shown to me by the staff at the Wendt Center."
Throughout her treatment journey, Cherie was thankful for the Wendt Center staff.
One characteristic about the staff that she remembers long after her treatments is their positive energy they had at each one of her appointments.
"The wonderful thing is that they give you hope," Cherie said. "I can't even put it into words. Since they are so positive, their energy is contagious. You need that positive energy, because when you are coming in, you are affected by things in your personal life. Every day, I would leave the Wendt Center with a smile on my face."
To mark the end of her time at the Wendt Center, Cherie rang the bell to celebrate the special milestone.
For her, there was no better feeling than overcoming her cancer diagnosis.
"That was indescribable," Cherie said. "It's like the end of that particular journey. It feels like it's over and that you're ready to move on to the next part of your life. It was really rewarding. They [Wendt Center staff] were all there to support me. I'm looking forward to being cancer free and to move forward with a happy, healthy life."
What set Cherie's treatment journey apart was the staff at the Wendt Center.
In her experience, it made all the difference.
"You can have a state-of-the-art machine, but if you don't have phenomenal people to work the machine, like the Wendt Center does, that's what really makes the difference," Cherie said. "the staff at the Wendt Center really meets that, every single one of them. Fom the receptionists to the therapists, every person there treated me with respect, positivity and were so kind. That really helped my journey."
Based on her positive experience at the Wendt Center, Cherie has high recommendations for anyone needing cancer treatment services.
"The staff at the Wendt Center will take really good care of you and not to worry," Cherie said. "They are very professional, knowledgeable and positive. They make a difference. If you have cancer, this is the place to be."