Dealing with Appendix Cancer and Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP) is a long and often trying process. But, it becomes easier to navigate the labyrinth of diagnosis, consultations, surgery, recovery and follow-up care when you have an “old hand” on your side…a mentor who’s been through it. PMP Pals’ Mentor Program is one of the most important services we offer. We believe that confident, well-educated patients recuperate stronger and faster than patients who are poorly informed and fearful.
“It can be lonely to go through PMP because it is a rare condition,” says Charmaine Skillman, an 18-year PMP survivor and manager of the Mentor Program. “We connect those who have experienced PMP to those just starting their journey, as well as to those who find themselves back on this path again.”
Elizabeth, a single, 54-year-old Systems Analyst, was diagnosed in 2012 and connected with a Pals’ mentor a few weeks before her surgery. “Without a mentor, I was so scared and had many questions, with no one other than my surgeon to answer them. There was no one to share experiences with.” A mentor made all the difference.
Libby McMahon, Board member and Secretary for PMP Pals’ Network, has mentored many individuals. Her husband is a PMP survivor since 2003, so Libby understands the concerns of both patients and caregivers. “My priority is to provide hope – this disease can at first seem devastating. I listen with an open heart and try to identify what people can do to improve their situations.”
Our mentors are caring individuals with an upbeat attitude. They listen, answer questions to the best of their ability, and use the PMP Pals’ Network to get the rest of the information you need.
Elizabeth has had several mentors during her journey. “They gave great advice on how to prepare for surgery and what to do afterwards. They also gave great advice when I returned to work about clothing, germ protection, and nutrition.” Elizabeth’s mentors also sat with family during her surgery and visited her in the hospital afterwards.
The Mentor Program exists to help you, so it’s up to you how much contact you have with your mentor. You may feel a need to talk or write every day. Or you may just feel better knowing your mentor is there in the wings. He or she will be available when needed, no matter what the issue.
“After my hospital discharge,” says Elizabeth, “I panicked, thinking of taking my first shower alone with tubes and drains. My mentors were there when I needed them, with advice and lots of encouragement.”
Mentors can be matched with caregivers, as well. Libby recently mentored a woman caring for her husband through his surgery. In addition to providing moral support, Libby helped her evaluate insurance alternatives, obtain a referral to a qualified PMP specialist, and reduce travel costs. “Caregivers need lots of mentoring because it’s terrifying to watch what your loved one is going through,” says Libby, speaking from experience. “Knowing what to expect, and what you can do about it, is empowering.”
To get a mentor, visit https://pmppals.net/request-a-mentor/ or contact the Mentor Program in-take team at email@example.com. Charmaine, Libby, and Adele (another Pals’ Board member) review incoming requests. We will talk with you about your needs, then match you as closely as possible with a mentor who has had a similar diagnosis and similar experiences. Your mentor will then contact you by email or phone.
“Our goal is to walk you through this journey,” says Charmaine. “You will have a friend who will listen to your concerns, help you find resources, and offer support. Our mentor volunteers generously give their time when peer support is most needed. ”
“Each time I mentor someone,” says Libby, “I give that person an ally, someone with an open heart and a ready ear.”
Elizabeth stays in touch with her mentors, sending email updates after each annual checkup and on the anniversary of her surgery. She has even gone on to become a mentor. “I want to give that experience to others and pay back what I received. ’Support’ is an understatement as to how my PMP Pals assisted me throughout my cancer treatment journey.”
PMP Pals’ Network has matched hundreds of mentors with patients and caregivers. Let us help you. Just give the Mentor Program team a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at https://pmppals.net/request-a-mentor/.