The Patient Empowerment Network (PEN) is rolling out the red carpet to congratulate and celebrate two of our dedicated and passionate Network Managers, who are being recognized as outstanding patient advocates. Their enthusiasm for helping other patients navigate their cancer journeys exemplifies PEN’s mission of ensuring all patients have the resources they need to access the best possible healthcare and achieve the best possible health outcomes. We are proud of our growing team of Network Managers and grateful for their engagement in the PEN community.
Summer Golden, recognized for her advocacy through the PEN Network Manager program, has been named a Voice of MPN 2020 MPN Hero. The MPN Hero award is given to those who have demonstrated a strong commitment to making a difference in the lives of people with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). Summer, who lives with myelofibrosis (MF), understands the MPN journey and has helped thousands of patients through the Network Manager Program. She, and her husband, Jeff Bushnell, who became her care partner when she was diagnosed, reach out to patients in the MPN community through e-newsletters, program development, and support groups. Summer makes connections with others through compassion and humor. Yes, humor. She says, “Everyone deals with this diagnosis differently, so whether it’s through education, support, or in my case, comedy, it’s important to face your disease head on and know you are more than a diagnosis.”
Dr. Gerri Smoluk was a PEN Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Network Manager and was recently named a finalist for the Reuters Patient Champion Award in the Patient Advocate category. Gerri was a drug development scientist and patient advocate who was diagnosed with AML in 2016. She made it her mission to help patients ask the right questions of their care teams. She used her knowledge to help patients learn about medications for and the latest information about their disease. Using her science background, Gerri developed tangible resources to help other AML patients. She felt she had an advantage and made it her mission to use that advantage to help empower others to make better decisions. Gerri passed away July 27, 2020. Her legacy lives on inspiring other Network Managers to help more patients become empowered.
The PEN Network Manager program is a volunteer group of patient empowerment ambassadors from around the country. Designed to further enhance health literacy, the program was launched in March 2020 and has grown exponentially. The volunteers engage with PEN’s network of cancer patients and families with the goal of providing support and navigation on their path to empowerment. Find out how you can get involved here.
Jennifer Lessinger is a professional writer and editor who learned the value of patient empowerment during her struggle with a hard-to-diagnose and complex endocrine disorder.