Eileen Z. Fuentes | A Tale of Two Patients: Survival Barriers for the Poor with Breast Cancer
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16 Oct A Tale of Two Patients: Survival Barriers for the Poor with Breast Cancer


With all the talk about The Affordable Care Act and the government shutdown in response to it, I thought it was important to share this video with you about disparities in care between the rich and the poor and the difference a Patient Navigator can make.

In August of 2010, I had the great honor of meeting Dr. Harold P. Freeman while completing my Patient Navigation certification at the esteemed Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute.  Among MANY other accomplishments, Dr. Freeman is the President and Founder of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention in New York City and was the Senior Advisor to the Director of the National Cancer Institute as well as  the Chief Architect of the American Cancer Society initiative on Cancer in the Poor.

Photo: ABC News

As many of you know, I underwent treatment for breast cancer in 2008 and had my first real experience with the fragmented healthcare system during this time. When I completed surgery, chemotherapy and breast reconstruction, I immersed myself in different programs so that I could learn more about how to improve outcomes for patients, particularly for immigrants and those of low socioeconomic status.

When I attended this program, the class consisted mainly of non-New Yorkers, with participants traveling as far as Alaska to be there. Of those students, I was the only one paying out-of-pocket. People wondered why I was there and the only response I could come up with is that I was being guided by something that was bigger than myself. I knew my intuition was right, when I was awarded a partial scholarship by the Livestrong Foundation. This unexpected event caught me by complete surprise!

I believe there is a dire need for patient navigators and thanks in part to Dee Dee Ricks and others, the Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute remains a viable resource to the many patients its alumni serve.

Applications for its upcoming classes and online programs are currently being accepted. You can learn more about this program here: http://www.hpfreemanpni.org/

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Eileen Z. Fuentes

After a breast cancer diagnosis in 2008, Eileen became her own Self-Healthcare Activist. She is an Integrative Cancer Coach and works full-time helping patients do more than just survive at Columbia University’s Cancer Center in New York City.

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