Voices on Cancer is an award-winning Cancer.Net Blog series where advocates share their stories and the lessons they have learned about being a cancer advocate.
Attorney Meg Gaines found a calling to be a patient advocate after her own cancer experience. Gaines’ self-advocacy helped her through her extended and difficult diagnosis and treatment process in the 1990s. After her successful treatment, she wanted to empower other people with cancer to advocate for their care.
Her first opportunity came unexpectedly, when her oncologist asked her to help cheer up a patient who was feeling down. “I jumped on the bus and really was there in about 25 minutes,” Gaines told me in a recent interview. “[I] sat for most of the afternoon with her—talking about life, and death, and mortality and what it's like, and family, and fear, and cancer.”
Gaines also helped the patient sort out a billing issue with her insurance company, and this first taste of advocacy left Gaines hooked. She realized that a team-based approach would be able to help more people than anyone could alone. She is now the founder and director of the Center for Patient Partnerships.
I had the opportunity to interview Gaines about her cancer experience and the lessons she learned from it. In this podcast, she shares her story and talks about the importance of patient-centered care. Highlights from our conversation include:
How Gaines’ cancer journey began and how it led to her becoming a patient advocate [1:24].
The meaning of “patient-centered care” and its importance in the healthcare system [9:21].
How she mentors future professionals and advocates [10:45].
Advice for future patient advocates [12:12].
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