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Caring Ambassadors: Empowering Patients to Control Their Illnesses

BY Amy Jacob
PUBLISHED February 24, 2016
Empowerment. This is what patients seek before, during and after their diagnoses.

As such, the Oregon City-based, nonprofit, Caring Ambassadors’, mission is to help improve the lives of those affected by challenging health conditions through advocacy, information and support.

Focusing on lung cancer and hepatitis C patients, the organization’s third arm — My Journey My Choices — serves as the online portal patients to access relevant information.

According to Lorren Sandt, executive director, “It’s so important for patients to be empowered and educated.”

The tables are turned, and through Caring Ambassadors program, the patients now are able to maintain control of their health. 

Diagnosed with lung cancer in April 2011, Jessica Steinberg, initially felt like the common patient — unsure of where to begin. A newly single mother of two boys, Steinberg suddenly had to manage countless doctors’ appointments, prescriptions, chemo, rest, etc., with her own children’ needs.

Needless to say she was overwhelmed.

However, Steinberg soon adopted a mantra that helped her see the light: “I accept that I can’t change that I have cancer. This is not in my control. There are so many things that are in my control, though. Maybe it won’t be the magic cure, but it will make the ride so much better!”

The more Steinberg repeated this, the more she believed.

This drove her to choose and build a relationship with an oncologist who best fit her needs.

Steinberg became an active partner in her own care, but truly welcomed her caregivers — she knew she needed the help, especially for her children’s sake.

Additionally, she found a cancer community that helped her carve time for her own mental balance. She felt she had a group with whom she belonged, while still maintaining her sense of self.

As Steinberg optimistically shared with the organization, “I’m still in the fight, but it’s different now. I don’t worry anymore about not being here to raise my boys. I have cancer, but cancer can’t have me!” Focused on education, the Caring Ambassadors Program is funded through “generous unrestricted grants from individual donors and corporate donors.” Standt added, “We hope to improve the technology of My Journey My Choices and expand the program to provide resources on the top chronic disease. We have made a commitment to push for the elimination of hepatitis C in our lifetime.”

And, as the institution’s mission states, “It is educated optimism, and empowered patients know there has never been a time in the world of cancer treatment where having hope is so warranted. Hope can inspire you to action, included being a stronger advocate for yourself and others.”
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