Patient Advisor Helps Fellow Cancer Survivors and Patients

AAMC Patient and Family Advisor Patricia Holle paddles with fellow cancer survivors in the Annapolis Dragon Boat Club.
AAMC Patient and Family Advisor Patricia Holle paddles with fellow cancer survivors in the Annapolis Dragon Boat Club.

Patricia Holle describes herself as a “mammogram success story.” When her breast screening showed an abnormality, Pat underwent 18 months of treatment for stage 2B breast cancer at Anne Arundel Medical Center. Once she was pronounced cancer-free, Pat was determined to help others who were facing cancer diagnoses.

Luckily, she didn’t have to look far: She joined the volunteers who serve as AAMC’s patient and family advisors. Pat says she was hooked by the program’s theme, Nothing About Me Without Me.

Pat had benefited from their services when she was a patient, so she felt it was a natural fit for her to return the favor. “There is something so special about AAMC,” says Pat. “They have such great care, even after treatment is done.”

In her advisor role, Pat collaborated on the guide that breast cancer patients are given when they begin their cancer journey. “Empathy is wonderful,” says Pat, “but a unique perspective is given by someone who has been through breast cancer.”

One annual event that holds particular meaning for Pat is AAMC’s National Cancer Survivor’s Day celebration. That’s where she learned about the Annapolis Dragon Boat Club, the local club of an international movement of cancer survivors who paddle and race stylized boats. “We like to say that it is a support group that’s not only about the disease,” says Pat. “Plus, being an athlete again is a great thing.”

The dragon boat is featured in a painting that now hangs in The Rebecca Fortney Breast Center at the Geaton and JoAnn DeCesaris Cancer Institute, and is reproduced on note cards that are in a gift bag given to breast cancer patients on the day of their surgery. Pat remarks, “In the face of having a life-threatening diagnosis, it is reassuring to have a visit from a survivor with these special gifts.”

Find out more about taking advantage of the service of patient and family advisors, or become one yourself!

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