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Friday, May 6, 2016

BVRMC, CarePages help keep young cancer patient in touch

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tawny Hendriks, a 2003 graduate of Storm Lake High School, knew she wanted to be a nurse and work in the health field out of a desire to care for people and help them regain their wellbeing.

As a young woman, she had empathy for each patient she encountered in her nurses training at Briar Cliff University but did not plan on such a close up and personal opportunity to see things from their perspective.

Last March when Tawny was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, her life became a whirlwind of new health-related conversations and activities as well as a host of new emotions.

Doctor appointments, blood work, and treatment schedules began to fill her days and communicating with her family, friends, classmates and others was overwhelming. She knew people cared and wanted to know how she was doing but her time was precious and talking on the phone and sending e-mails was exhausting and not a priority.

That is when her neighbor and family friend Diane Porter, CarePages Coordinator at Buena Vista Regional Medical Center offered some support. In five minutes, Diane helped Tawny and her mother create a CarePage through the BVRMC website.

CarePages allows a patient (or their family member) a free, personalized opportunity to communicate with everyone at once about their health journey. In just a few minutes Tawny was able to post a summary of her story and from there, provide updates at her convenience. When she or her mother would post new information, an e-mail was automatically sent to her family and friends letting them know they can log on and learn the latest developments.

Those viewing her CarePage were able to send her a note, "I loved being able to receive messages from friends and loved ones while I was going through a difficult time in my life. Those messages were what kept me going on certain days. It was so wonderful knowing that people cared enough to take a moment out of their day to let me know they were thinking about me." stated Hendriks. She plans to print out all her messages and put them in a keepsake book, reminding her of all the special notes that were sent during those difficult days.

Fatigue was a side-effect of chemotherapy and Tawny shared, "It was so great being able to let all my family and friends know how I was doing at the same time, with just one click of the mouse. When I was sick I didn't always feel like talking on the phone so CarePages was a perfect way of letting people know how I was doing." Tawny even posted pictures during the different phases of treatment to reassure those far away that her resolve to return to good health stayed strong and her attitude was positive throughout.

CarePages is not only for people with cancer like Tawny it may also be used by anyone facing a health challenge such as hospitalization, chronic disease, long-term treatment of any kind, rehabilitation from surgery or an injury and even to celebrate a joyful medical experience such as pregnancy and delivery.

CarePages never expire so they may be used for years. Tawny used her CarePage to communicate the good news from her 100 day post-transplant update and will continue to use it for on-going check-ups, etc.

CarePages is a free service offered by BVRMC and although setting one up is a simple task, there are staff members available to assist anyone interested. For additional information, visit www.bvrmc.org and click on CarePages or contact Diane Porter 712.213.8610.

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