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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Franciscan St. Francis partners with to assist cancer patients, caregivers

INDIANAPOLIS -- Franciscan St. Francis Health is using an innovative online approach to help those affected by cancer., an online support network, matches patients according to their diagnosis, stage, and age; people going through the same specific journey can share firsthand insights, what to expect next, treatment options, side effects of treatment, and ways they have coped.

Franciscan St. Francis is the first hospital in Indiana to partner with What Next. Nationally, more than 10,000 have registered as users, more than 400 of them Hoosiers. Both are devoted to providing patients with connections and insights they require.

“A cancer diagnosis impacts not only the patient, but the entire family,” said Peter Garrett, MD, medical director of Franciscan St. Francis Cancer Center. “With What Next we are now able to uniquely provide cancer patients with access to insights and support that previously were hard to find.”

The motivation for What Next originated via its founder’s own experience with a family member’s journey through cancer treatment.

“People are trying to make sense of a whole universe of new and staggering volume of medical information at the same time they are trying to figure out what’s next and to stay emotionally strong,” said David Wasilewski. “Our site helps patients benefit from those who have been there.”

J. Leonard Lichtenfield, MD, deputy chief medical officer for the national office of the American Cancer Society weighs in about What Next in a recent article, For Cancer Patients, It's Not Just About What's Now But Also What's Next--And We Can Help Answer That Question and says,

What Next is designed to bring people together...Based on a number of factors including diagnosis and disease status, the site aims to link people and help them share insights that may be of mutual interest, such as the side effects of a treatment, what to expect from treatment, and experiences with a shared cancer diagnosis. The proactive matching is what makes What Next different.”

One St. Francis Health colorectal cancer patient, Jayme W., shares her story with What Next in a video posted by the site that helps others learn from her experiences.

“For me, it’s all about getting that personal perspective, hearing it from somebody who’s been there, hearing it from somebody who’s done it,” says Jayme W.  It’s one thing to know your stuff. It’s one thing to know a textbook explanation of things. It’s another thing to have gone through it yourself.”