In 2002 Diahanna and her husband received the news that her husband had MGUS, a precursor to Multiple Myeloma. At times it was difficult for her husband and her voices to be heard when trying to communicate with the doctors. Finally, in a moment of desperation Diahanna had to aggressively insist on being a participant in his care, it in fact saved her husband’s life. It was this experience as well as her professional experience that gave her a profound understanding of the emotional and financial costs that patients bare. Upon her husband death in 2013, Diahanna immediately decided to make it her mission to help patients and caregivers empower themselves to speak up and to position themselves as partners in their treatment.
Diahanna became a Board-Certified Patient Advocate. She is currently the Financial Myeloma Coach for The Myeloma Crowd Foundation. She also received a certificate from George Washington University as an Oncology Patient Navigator. She served as the Board Chair of the Ky/Southern Indiana Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society from 2015-2017. Diahanna is also a 20+ year financial advisor. Diahanna has a BA from Cleveland State University in Political Science. Her most important role was as a 12-year caregiver to her husband who had Myeloma. Her experiences and expertise have led her to advocate for cancer patients and caregivers maneuvering the healthcare system, to help them stay on treatment plan while managing the associated costs.
How would you define patient advocacy?
A: I would define patient advocacy as a specialized area in healthcare in which advocates work on behalf of and with patients, caregivers and survivors to navigate the healthcare system in a way that is most beneficial to them and their health throughout the continuum of care.
What in life led you to patient advocacy?
A: As a financial advisor and as a Caregiver to my husband who had multiple myeloma for 12 years, I experienced and witnessed care that was subpar where my husband was not always included in his care plan. I was compelled to always be present and speak up on his behalf. I became very involved in patient advocacy as a result.
As a PEN Network Manager, what are your interests and how are you helping other patients?
A: I would like to use my financial knowledge and experience to help patients navigate the financial side of the costs of healthcare to prevent financial toxicity. I have been very successful in providing online seminars as well as in person workshops. I provide education articles and feel an ongoing chat room or blog would also benefit patients.