By Christine Verini, RPh, Board Chair, HealthyWomen
No one ever expects to hear the words, "You have cancer"—and when it happens, few people hear anything else but those three words.
Despite the shock, many cancer patients are expected to make life-changing health care decisions about their treatment almost immediately following a diagnosis. Though you may not realize it at the time, you may be too overwhelmed to make the right decisions for you.
Many people talk a lot about fostering "shared decision making," but is it "shared" when you don't know all of your options? When your daily life needs aren't taken into account? When you can't afford your health care?
To me, the answer is no.
That's why I have dedicated my career to making sure that cancer patients not only have the support they deserve but the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. As chief operating officer for CancerCare, a national organization founded in 1944 to support the financial, practical and emotional needs of cancer patients, I spend my day working on ways to improve the lives of those affected by cancer.
One of my goals is to make sure that patients and their loved ones have easy access to the practical everyday information they need to make the health care decisions that work for them and their lifestyle. It's imperative for patients to understand that they are a consumer in their own care.
Those affected by cancer have critical decisions to make, and that's where CancerCare and HealthyWomen's perspectives align. For both organizations, it's all about helping people become more educated and more empowered to make the right decisions about their health.
I joined the HealthyWomen board in 2014 and since then have worked to help broaden HealthyWomen women's reach to educate as many women as possible. Now, in my new role as board chair, I plan to continue working in partnership with our dedicated CEO, Beth Battaglino, RN, to build on our 30-year legacy. I want to ensure that when patients and caregivers look for help, HealthyWomen is a top resource.
Additionally, I also want to help HealthyWomen expand its content to include even more information for caregivers, as well as patients, so that we can grow into one-stop shopping spot that women need to serve the health of themselves and their families.
I know the need for caregiver health care information firsthand, having cared for family members. I am very aware of the curveballs and challenges life can throw at you. That's why I support anything that helps ease the burden of caregiving, even a little bit.
I also believe in growing the HealthyWomen mission so that it can play a new role in showing employers the best ways to support employee wellness, whether through flexible and remote work, paid leave or other such policies and benefits. So much of lives are spent working, and it's time to acknowledge the impact that it has on our everyday health.
In the end, I believe there's nothing more important than health. That's why I love HealthyWomen and its mission, and I look forward to continuing to make a difference in the healthy lives of women and their families.
Christine Verini, RPh, is HealthyWomen Board Chair and Chief Operating Officer for CancerCare, a 75-year-old nonprofit focused on providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer. Recently named to the PharmaVOICE Magazine's 100 Most Inspiring People list, recognizing those who have made important contributions to the life-sciences industry, Ms. Verini previously served as Vice President of Corporate Communications and Advocacy at Eisai, a pharmaceutical company, where she was instrumental in creating Magnolia Meals at Home, providing meals at no cost to eligible patients and families living with cancer.