Editor's Note: This is an entry in our Scholarship Contest for Patients and Caregivers to attend the Mayo Clinic Social Media Summit Oct. 17-21 in Rochester, Minn. See this post
for more details on the contest, and please cast your votes by liking or commenting on the candidates you think would be best.
Here is Jim Pantelas' Essay:
My name is Jim Pantelas and, until six years ago, I knew little if anything about healthcare. Six years ago I began learning more than I wanted to. First I got diagnosed with a later stage lung cancer. Two months later my wife gave birth to our first daughter, Stella. While I was going through surgery, chemo and radiation treatments Stella was dealing with seizures, a brain bleed, and an extended stay at the Holden NICU at the University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital.
Today I am reasonably healthy, but Stella’s efforts to heal remain ongoing. Her overall diagnosis is Cerebral Palsy. As such, Stella is a frequent visitor to the Mott Children’s Hospital and its associated clinics and service facilities. She regularly sees specialists in PM&R, Gastroenterology, Ped’s Surgery, Neurology, Palliative Care, PT, OT, SLP and others.
As Stella’s care has broadened I have become involved in volunteer efforts at Mott. I volunteer under the auspices of their Patient and Family Care Council (PFCC) and sit on a Continuum of Care Committee, a Pediatric Ethics Committee, and now Mott’s Executive Committee, all as a community member. I sit on an Institutional Review Board for human research (and represent the interests of the Peds Ethics Committee there), and have been a guest speaker at U of M’s schools of nursing and social work. In each of these settings I represent the view of patients, caregivers and their families.
In my brief tenure on the committees in which I participate, the role of community members has become more than a token one. Community members are now an active and vibrant part of the Ethics Committee, are asked for opinions on a broad range of issues on the Executive Committee, and have worked on a number of PFCC-oriented policies in Continuum of Care. As community members we champion causes like Patient and Family Centered Rounding, community member involvement in Ethics cases and investigations, and generally speak to issues of how things feel or how policies are perceived by families, patients and caregivers.
I have attended conferences on my own time and at my own expense that I felt would add value to my involvement at Mott, and I have presented in Grand Rounds and other venues on topics I felt were of significance. I also speak regularly at cancer-oriented venues in support of my cancer treatment team at St. Joe’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, sit on the Planning Committee for the local branch of the Cancer Support Community and have spoken at American Cancer Society events.
So, why do I think I should be chosen to earn a scholarship to attend your Social Media conference? Simply put, because I’m so active. As a committee member and guest speaker my audience is broad and I’m a good and effective communicator. I am also a technologist by trade, but have not incorporated social media into my volunteer and advocacy roles. I would like to learn more about how to do so.
Am I a “better” choice than anyone else? From the people I have met in my efforts over the last few years I would say that I’m not unique. I’m Stella’s dad and I’ve survived cancer, but I’m really not that much different than most. The people I’ve met are as committed to their organizations and institutions, have similar experiences, and love their children as much as I do. Most are in every way as qualified or more so. I just happen to be good at telling stories, and getting people to work well together. And maybe I can get them to consider my side of an issue while also smiling.
Thank you for considering me for inclusion.