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1,000th Patient Inspires, Is Inspired By the ‘Angels’ In Radiation Oncology at Barnes-Jewish West County

By Kelly Pahl

Linda Adams and Dr. Imran Zoberi celebrate Adam’s last radiation treatment. Photo by Kelly Pahl

Linda Adams undoubtedly started her 21st
school year with same unbridled energy and enthusiasm that she shared at her last radiation treatment.

The physical education teacher and tennis coach from Jackson, Mo., is cancer free, after spending the summer receiving radiation treatments at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital (BJWCH).
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in
early May, she became the 1,000 patient to receive radiation therapy  at BJWCH. The hospital started offering radiation therapy Feb. 23, 2009.

“It was very exciting to treat our 1,000th patient,” says Imran Zoberi, MD, medical director  of radiation oncology at BJWCH. “Typically it would take a facility of our size several more years to reach this milestone. It’s a testament to the hospital, the quality of care we deliver and the trust we have engendered in our patients and referring physicians that we could reach this milestone so quickly.”

The 1,000th patient was a bundle of energy in neon gym clothes and tennis shoes, who  bounced into her last treatment Aug. 14, cheering and hugging everyone within reach. Adams credited God and the staff and physicians in radiation oncology and the Siteman Cancer Center with her recovery.

After a mammogram on May 2 found a ductal cell carcinoma in/situ, or a noninvasive, abnormal mass of cells that is confined to the milk ducts, in her left breast, Adams had a lumpectomy. Her cancer was caught early, at stage 0. “I could have been treated in Cape Girardeau, but I felt like God was leading me to the Siteman Cancer Center,” she says. “I had to come here. I knew I was not big enough for this but my GOD was big enough.”

Adams drove two hours each way to BJWCH daily for six weeks for radiation. She said the experience of having cancer changed her. “I thought I had passion and compassion,  but God has truly shown me how to love,” she says. “I tried to be a disciple to other patients. You can be in a crowd of people and really don’t know just how lonely people are inside. Lift your face with a smile - they need to know someone cares.”

Lyrics “Angel By Your Side”  
by Francesca Battistelli

I'll be the angel by your side I will get you through the night I'll be the strength you can't provide on your own

'Cause when you're down and out of time And you think you've lost the fight Let me be the angel, the angel by your side

“Linda has a lot of energy, love of life and the philosophy to live life to the fullest,” Dr. Zoberi says. “She decided not to let a cancer diagnosis change how she lives her life.”

After receiving her last treatment, radiation oncology staff greeted Adams with applause. She thanked the ‘angels’ who cared for her, gave out macadamia nut and peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies, and played a song she dedicated to them called “Angel By Your Side,” by Francesca Battistelli. They shared hugs and tears.

Adams, accompanied by her husband Blaine, rang the bell to symbolize her last treatment. Then she headed back to Jackson, to her two children, daughter in law and three grandchildren, and to begin her last school year as she plans to retire in 2013.

"The staff and physicians took so very good care of me," she says. "They feel for their patients and show so much gentleness and compassion. They are angels sent to me from God. Pray and be prayed for."