Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL – While undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Loyola Medicine patient Angie Lopresti read about a Texas church that donates patient smocks designed to provide more dignity and comfort than traditional hospital gowns.

Each smock has three vertical openings, one down the middle and one down each side. The openings are fastened together by Velcro strips. Because the smocks open at the seams, the patient needs to expose only the area that is being treated.

Mrs. Lopresti made a smock for herself and wore it during radiation treatments five days a week for six weeks. “It made me feel less vulnerable, more in control and also warmer,” said Mrs. Lopresti, who lives in Westchester with her husband and two children, who she has home schooled.

Now in remission thanks to a multidisciplinary team that includes medical oncologist Patricia Robinson, MD, surgical oncologist Claudia Perez DO, and radiation oncologist William Small, Jr., MD, a grateful Mrs. Lopresti wanted to help other patients, so she enlisted her church, International Christian Fellowship in Brookfield, Illinois.

“Cancer is such a devastating diagnosis that you can feel lost and alone,” Mrs. Lopresti said. “We want women to know there are people who care and are there to support them at a very trying time in their lives.”

Church volunteers have made 30 smocks so far and plan to continue making them, said Pastor Vicki Gonzalez. The church supplies all the materials, and volunteers cut the openings and sew on the Velcro strips. “Our church is more than just a building,” Pastor Gonzalez said. “This is a way we can help the community.”

Each smock comes with a handwritten card that says: “This smock was lovingly made for you by the ladies of ICF. As you wear it, we pray it will bring you comfort and peace.”

Loyola is one of a select group of institutions in the nation that offers a one-visit, team approach for patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. In just one visit, patients meet with a medical team, including surgical, medical and radiation oncologists.