I love the Patient Coach program because I’ve become so frustrated with healthcare, and I think this program finally represents a needed positive change. I’m tired of almost everyone battling ignorance among healthcare professionals who simply don’t understand what it’s like to live with my conditions. A lot of doctors and nurses mean well, but they just can’t provide the same advice and support regarding lifestyle issues that a fellow patient can.

I’m thrilled to be part of a program that focuses on patient needs and is constantly evolving to make our care platform even better. I feel like I can finally make a difference for people like me, and I can reduce some of their fears. As we grow, I think we can become a resource for nurses as well as patients. I am excited to see more nurses and surgeons recognize us as a resource for them to learn more about what their patients face and treat their medical needs more effectively, while sending those patients our way for the unique peer to peer support we offer so they can get social support.

On a personal level, I feel a great sense of purpose as a Patient Coach. It has honestly helped my mental health. I have so much knowledge that is not useful to healthy people but is incredibly useful in the context of supporting fellow patients. I want to fight for better care for ostomates, and I feel my ideas are taken seriously at 11 Health so I can have a lasting impact.

Sharing my complete health story is something I have a hard time doing because it has been awful, and it’s not an inspirational story. There’s no triumph or great comeback. It is just me trying to move forward despite my challenges and learning to cling to joy wherever I can find it. My ostomy dramatically changed my life for the better, but my severely aggressive Crohn’s disease and additional surgeries have made life difficult. Sharing the story of the neglect and trauma that led to PTSD triggered by hospital settings is much less important to me than sharing all the wonderful resources I have found that can help people reduce their anxiety. I’ve been inspired by my terrible medical experiences to be a kinder, loving person and do everything I can to lift other people up. I was lucky enough to have a fellow ostomate support me before and after surgery, and she’s the reason I’ve been determined to support people like she did. It made a huge difference in my life and set me on a course that led me to 11 Health where I can walk alongside people during a challenging time in their lives.