Meet @jenniferhunter: Where Health and Art Meet
Member Spotlights feature interviews with fellow Connect members. Learn more about members you’ve connected with and some you haven’t met yet. Nominate a member you think should share the spotlight.
TERESA: What brought you to Mayo Clinic Connect? What motivates you to take part in the community?
@jenniferhunter: Mayo Clinic’s Facebook posts got me thinking about it. I had life-changing spine surgery at Mayo that restored my ability to work as an artist, and I wanted to be able to help other patients from what I had learned through my experience and give something back to Mayo in gratitude for my recovery. The difference I've found in the Connect community is the higher level of information and links to medical studies. That is more than just a support group: It's a way to learn from others who've been there. I know how hard it can be to navigate medical challenges, and I want to help other patients with information.
TERESA: What about Connect makes you feel comfortable to share and to be open with the community?
@jenniferhunter: I learned firsthand the differences in what it is like to seek medical care at a place that treats patients with compassion and empathy when I came to Mayo. Connect upholds Mayo's values of being supportive and welcoming, and mentors and members reach out to ask how people are doing. I also like being part of a community that shares good educational resources as well as emotional support for medical issues. I feel I can help others navigate and learn to advocate for themselves. I can share what I've learned about overcoming fear and adversity.
Many Connect members have shared a lot that has helped me, and welcomed me into the community. There is insight into treating and managing health conditions. Having different opinions helps patients find doctors who are at the top of their game, not just at Mayo, but around the country. I've been able to share some of that with people I know outside of Connect.
TERESA: What groups do you participate in?
@jenniferhunter: I checked the groups I follow in my profile and found that I have participated in a lot of groups:
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Bones Joints & Muscles
- Brain & Nervous System
- Chronic Pain
- Brain Tumor
- Depression and Anxiety
- Diabetes/Endocrine System
- Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT)
- Epilepsy & Seizures
- Eye Conditions
- Just Want to Talk
- Heart & Blood Health
- Lung Health
- MAC & Bronchiectasis
- Mental Health
- Spine Health
- Stroke & Cerebrovascular Diseases
- Visiting Mayo Clinic
- Women's Health
TERESA: Who has been a special connection for you on Connect?
TERESA: What surprised you the most about Connect?
@jenniferhunter: The shared knowledge and willingness of others to help reflects Mayo's values of excellence, which sets it apart from other online support groups. I was welcomed when I started, and my input was valued. I've learned things from others which helped me personally that I wouldn't know about if I hadn't been reading the posts. I think outside the box, and try to empathize with others and think about how would I approach a problem if it was happening to me. Often, I am tagged by a moderator to try to help, or I find a description of symptoms that I recognize as needing medical attention, and I try to educate as to how symptoms might relate a possible problem and how to communicate this with a medical provider, and also which medical specialty may be a good place to start. My biology background helps me explain things from medical literature to make it more understandable.
TERESA: What energizes you, or how do you find balance in your life?
@jenniferhunter: Sometimes it's a juggling session between trying to meet a deadline when I'm working on a new painting for a competition, my physical therapy sessions, driving my mom to her appointments and finding time to work with my horse. Riding him is great exercise, builds my core strength and gets me outside for fresh air and sunshine.
Horses are always honest and communicate their feelings, and my relationship with all my animals is based on respect. With a horse, anything less than that is unsafe, since a human will always lose a contest of strength. You have to become a team with your horse and enjoy things together, and also understand the herd instinct and his relationship to other horses.
TERESA: Tell us about your favorite pastime or activity.
@jenniferhunter: Artwork … painting. Nothing feels as good as completing a painting when it all falls into place and comes close to the painting that was inside my head before I began. Often there is an unconscious message I'm expressing which I don't discover until after it is finished. If my painting touches someone else and they can feel like they have experienced it themselves, or it brings them joy, then I have succeeded.
Through my paintings, I can go anywhere my heart desires and to any time period or culture. I love horses, and I like to visit the times when horses were part of everyday life. For all the footprints through time, there were also hoofprints which helped our culture and civilization grow. These were slower, simpler times which defined our heritage as Americans.
TERESA: Do you have a favorite quote, life motto or personal mantra?
@jenniferhunter: It was so hard to choose, but I will share two quotes by John Denver. These words share my expression of who I am, and the person I want to be in the world.
“I believe that we are here for each other, not against each other. Everything comes from an understanding that you are a gift in my life — whoever you are, whatever our differences.”
“The best thing you have to offer the world is yourself. You don't have to copy anyone else. If you do, you're second best. To achieve success is to be first, and that's being yourself.”
TERESA: What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
@jenniferhunter: Honesty and humor.
TERESA: What food can you simply not resist?
@jenniferhunter: Fresh ripe peaches from the tree — not peaches picked before they are ripe and shipped to a store that don't taste or smell like a fresh peach — but a soft, fragrant, juicy peach that alone tastes like heaven, where you can hardly stop the juice from running down your face. I have a peach tree that produces some tiny, but oh-so-good peaches.
TERESA: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to see cast as you?
@jenniferhunter: Jane Seymour. I've always liked her as an actress, and she actually knows artists I know who are my friends. I enjoyed Jane's role as Dr. Quinn in the “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman” series, and she also likes and rides horses. The TV show is a historical period drama about life in the Old West. Funny I should like that, right?
TERESA: What do you love about where you live or vacation?
@jenniferhunter: One day, we'll build a house in Colorado near Rocky Mountain National Park, because I love everything about it and will always have something beautiful to enjoy and paint. I was an artist- in-residence at Rocky Mountain National Park in 1996. They have one of my paintings in their permanent collection illustrating the park's historic dedication in 1915.
TERESA: Puppies or kittens?
@jenniferhunter: Kittens ... I have three shelter-rescued cats, two of which were kittens I got right after my spine surgery. They keep me laughing. They also learned how to open cabinets and dresser drawers by watching me, so I have to stay a step ahead of them. I also had a chocolate Lab who learned how to climb a ladder, because I was up in a tree picking apples, and he wanted to be near me.