Earlier in the week, Advocate Christ Medical Center and Advocate Children’s Hospital surprised 41-year-old mom and soon to be cancer survivor, Raquel Lopez, after her last chemotherapy treatment. Raquel was united with her close virtual-friend, Lisa Wieland. Both women were diagnosed with colon cancer while pregnant, which is rare and happens to less than one percent of women.
Unable to find informational materials or support on the internet due to the rarity of their diagnosis, Gerri Neylon, a now retired radiation oncology nurse from Advocate Christ Medical Center, introduced the two women online through Facebook Messenger. Since then, Raquel and Lisa have forged a strong bond on Facebook by helping one another through their cancer journeys. While they’ve both expressed the desire to one day meet in person, they were never able to do so because their busy lives consisted of cancer treatment, taking care of multiple children and working.
“When I was first diagnosed, I was looking for any information and material I could find about my situation,” said Lisa. “I was surprised to find that there was very little out there. When I heard about Raquel and that she was looking to connect with someone, I was more than willing to message her and share experiences.”
“Lisa has been an instrumental support system for me, and really like a sister. I’m so surprised and happy to finally get to meet her in person,” said Raquel.
The surprise went beyond in-person introductions as Advocate Christ Medical Center and Advocate Children’s Hospital physicians, nurses and associates who have been a part of Lisa and Raquel’s care were in attendance and cheered both women on as they met. Dr. Amar Hamad, an Advocate Christ Medical Center oncologist, who cared for Lisa and Raquel and helped guide their unique multidisciplinary teams, presented each woman with a pair of tickets to a Cubs game of their choosing on behalf of the Advocate Health Care and Chicago Cubs partnership.
Advocate Christ Medical Center is part of Advocate Health Care, which is one of the nation’s leading health care networks. A not-for-profit, 749-bed, premier teaching institution with more than 1,500 affiliated physicians, Christ Medical Center is a leader in health care and one of the major referral hospitals in the Midwest in a number of specialties, including cardiovascular services, heart, kidney and lung transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, orthopedics and women’s health. The hospital also has one of the busiest Level I trauma centers in Illinois providing emergency care for more than 100,000 patient visits annually and is a leader in breakthrough technologies, including eICU® (electronic intensive care unit) monitoring, and the robotic da Vinci Surgery System®. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the medical center among the nation’s leading providers for cardiology & heart surgery and diabetes & endocrinology and rated it overall as being among the top four hospitals in Illinois. The hospital is also recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) as a Magnet Center. Magnet status represents the highest honor in the nursing profession.