Dorothy: Faithfully Optimistic

It’s not long into a conversation with Dorothy S. that you find yourself with a smile on your face. With her colorful personality and pleasant demeanor, the Baltimore native makes it easy to understand why her hometown’s known as “Charm City.”

Dorothy carries with her an unwavering optimism that seems contagious. And on any particular day, you’ll usually find Dorothy in good spirits.

“I can’t complain,” Dorothy explained, describing her day. “Life is good and I just go with the flow.”

A refreshing sentiment to hear, of course, but going with the flow doesn’t always mean good days, and Dorothy has certainly faced her fair share of tough ones.

A Concerning Lump

A routine visit several years ago with her Primary Care Doctor Dr. Arnel Tagle at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, proved to be one of them. A physical examination revealed a lump in her neck that concerned him and he immediately directed Dorothy to the care of Dr. William Valente, a thyroid expert in The Center of Endocrinology at Mercy.

Dr. Valente is Mercy’s foremost expert on conditions and disorders of the thyroid. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck that produces hormones which regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight. In some cases, swelling or lumps in the neck can point to issues with the thyroid, which was the case with Dorothy. After a complete exam, Dr. Valente diagnosed her with hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough of the body’s necessary hormones. The results, if left untreated, may include obesity, chronic fatigue and even heart disease.

Knowing the risks, it was important for Dr. Valente to get Dorothy’s condition under control. He quickly got her on a medication regime for her condition and the results have been a success, keeping Dorothy’s hormones at appropriate levels.

“I’ve been taking medication for some time now,” Dorothy said, “and I get my regular check-ups. I started out every three months, then it went to every four, every six and now just once a year, so that’s progress right there.”

Her appreciation for Dr. Valente’s expertise and care can only be explained by telling Dorothy’s complete story. While her treatment for hypothyroidism may have been a success, it hasn’t been the only threat to her seemingly limitless optimism.

Two More Health Troubles

In 2000, prior to her work with Dr. Valente, Dorothy was visiting with a former primary care doctor at a nearby facility. They were struggling to diagnose a medical condition that had begun to present itself.

“I was always generally active,” Dorothy said, “but I started to feel tired. Like I was running out of gas.”

Unable to confirm a definitive diagnosis, it was recommended that Dorothy visit Dr. David Riseberg of Medical Oncology and Hematology at Mercy Medical Center. Through extensive blood work and screenings, Dr. Riseberg diagnosed Dorothy with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), an uncommon type of cancer of the blood cells. Dorothy was quickly placed on medications and just one year later, her leukemia was in remission. She credits Dr. Riseberg’s early diagnosis for her success. 

Again in 2012 life would take one more swing at Dorothy’s “go with the flow” attitude. An emergency admittance and an overnight stay at Mercy due to the affects of high blood sugar would reveal type 2 diabetes. Working with Mercy dietitians, Dorothy has been able to understand her condition and effectively manage her situation on a daily basis. She now says her diabetes is well under control.

"One-Stop Shopping"

Through it all, Dorothy praises the work of Mercy’s staff for helping her overcome the many challenges she’s faced.

“Dr. Valente and all my doctors are there at Mercy Medical Center,” Dorothy explained. “I have what I like to call ‘one-stop shopping.’ I love every single one of them for one basic reason; they all do what I ask them to do and that’s simply to talk to one another. If one of them wants to prescribe a particular medication for an issue, they check with one another so that the medications don’t clash and so that they can keep up with my progress.”

It’s that communication among the staff at Mercy, along with Dorothy’s deeply rooted faith in God that keeps her positive and willing to share that optimism with others. Much like the Sisters of Mercy have done for over a century, Dorothy regularly volunteers her time collecting items and necessities for the area’s homeless or doing advocacy work in Annapolis for healthcare needs of the underserved. And when asked to share her story with others who may someday face a similar diagnosis or obstacle, Dorothy didn’t hesitate.

“If I can share my story to encourage others to not feel so overwhelmed with whatever their situation is,” she said, “that they may be able to manage things as well as I have, I jumped at the opportunity. I have nothing but high praise for Mercy. Every time I’ve had to go there, even for a hospital stay, I’ve always been comfortable, well taken care of and well looked after. It’s just a comfortable place to be.”

So as the charming Baltimore native continues enjoying each day, whether she’s reading the latest “who-dunit” mystery, volunteering in her local community or just spending time with friends and family, she’ll most likely be doing it with a smile.

And if you get the opportunity to talk to her, chances are, you will too. 

Dorothy's Treatment Team