Tag Archive for: Intake.me

Introducing Darla Brown: An Empowered Patient

People with cancer who actively participate in their fight for recovery along with their physicians and healthcare professionals will improve the quality of their lives and may enhance the possibility of their recovery. Combining the will of the patient with the skill of the physician – A powerful combination.” ~ Harold Benjamin, PhD, 1982

In 2010 I became very sick. I was losing weight, had excruciating pain in my pelvis, and had extremely heavy, abnormal menstrual bleeding. I went to a doctor to get help. Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of my healthcare saga. I went through several late nights in emergency rooms (often sent away with painkillers), to more ultrasounds than I could count, to countless specialists, and yet the pain and other symptoms only worsened.

The first doctor I visited assumed the culprit was an ovarian cyst and each subsequent doctor I saw took her word for it.  I should admit something at this point in my story. Up until this point, I tended to be passive about my health care. I didn’t question diagnoses or treatments. When so many doctors agreed on my diagnosis, how could I question them? However, when I eventually became “patient active” (a term that I later learned), it actually saved my life.

One sleepless night, I woke up on the floor of my kitchen. The anemia (a result of the abnormal menstrual bleeding) had caused me to pass out while getting a glass of water and I had hit my head.  I went back to the doctor the next day and insisted more tests be done.  I implored, “Please don’t send me home again without a real diagnosis.” I demanded something be done. This was my first step to becoming an empowered patient.

Empowered patients realize that they have to make the healthcare system work for them. Through my experience I realized:

  • It is too easy to get passed around from doctor to doctor in our healthcare system. This wastes valuable time.
  • It is easy for doctors, who can be overburdened, to focus on the most squeaky wheel and forget about passive patients.
  • Had I been empowered sooner in my healthcare journey, I would have gotten to a diagnosis sooner and my cancer would not have become life threatening. My cervical cancer symptoms were actually evident from the start and yet I went undiagnosed for several months.

I was finally diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer and found a wonderful healthcare team at Cedars-Sinai Cancer Center. I didn’t have insurance at the time (I was too sick to work and this was before the ACA/Obamacare) but I did qualify for a California state run program called the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program (BCCTP).

By the time I actually got into treatment, the tumor had grown and had positioned itself inside my cervix so that surgery to remove it was no longer an option. Instead, I went through two months of daily external radiation, weekly internal radiation (also known as brachytherapy), and weekly chemotherapy treatments. I am so grateful that it was treatable, and I am thankful for the healthcare system that made it so. However, had I been properly diagnosed and treated earlier on, I would have required less invasive and less expensive treatments.

Since my diagnosis and recovery, I have spoken to many patients about their experiences and I am honored to be invited to share those stories and lessons in future blog posts.

ePatient 101 Course – Thoughts and Opinions

Having trouble navigating the healthcare industry? Overwhelmed with all the decisions you need to make? Buried in all of the information? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then the ePatient 101 Course could be just what you’re looking for. ePatient 101 was created by Intake.me to empower patients, caregivers, or patient advocates in all of their health matters. Being an “ePatient” means becoming empowered, educated, and engaged in your disease.

The course is laid out in four key components:

  • The course itself with tips and advice from experts and patients
  • Exercises to form your own ePatient toolkit
  • Technological tools to help organize your information on the intake.me platform
  • Patient chat community for support and troubleshooting

This format allows you to have the confidence and strength to be able to best advocate for yourself. This course has received rave reviews and you can read some of those below. Oh, and did I mention it’s free to all!

“What’s great about the virtual learning environment is that it allows you to combine video, audio and other multimedia content from multiple sources into one, easy-to-access place. Users get carefully curated content that feels fresh and that they can complete at their own pace.

“The benefit of the eLearning environment is that its able to meet you where you are… you can do it anytime, anywhere, and you don’t need to spend a lot of time or money to gain valuable tools and insight on topics that can greatly impact your health and the health of those around you.”
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Coming Soon!
“We are excited to partner with the Patient Empowerment Network because our missions align perfectly: we’re all passionate about empowering patients throughout their healthcare journey. With the folks at Patient Empowerment Network, we’re able to provide our first disease-specific courses, starting with CLL 101 (Chronic lymphocytic leukemia), and we look forward to co-creating more courses through our partnership in the future.” – Darla Brown, intake.me founder

[lead]Join us on Fri 3/18 1 PM ET/10 AM PT for an Empowered #patientchat on Twitter (@power4patients) with our friends @intakeme[/lead]
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