How to Advocate for Yourself

How to Advocate for Yourself

What is Self-Advocacy and why is it important?

Self-advocacy is taking a proactive approach to being part of your healthcare team to ensure your needs are met and you are more in control to live your best life possible with cancer. It includes learning how to educate yourself with reliable information, knowing your rights, listening, and asking the right questions to make sound decisions. Being able to clearly communicate with others and feeling comfortable in making yourself heard are important. Reaching out to others when you need help is another form of self-advocacy and self-respect.

Bag It’s NEW publication Paths to Survivorship and other contents in your bag guide you on how to advocate for yourself from the moment of diagnosis and beyond.

How to Advocate for Yourself:

  • Use your Bag It My Companion Guidebook to organize and track your own information. It’s a handy reference and a good back up if something gets lost. Request copies of your records, labs and test results at every appointment. Store them in the 3-ring guidebook with the most recent on top.
  • Write down your questions before your appointment and then write down the answers.
  • Bring someone with you to every appointment. A second pair of ears is helpful. They can take notes or record what’s said (ask permission first).
  • Visit only reliable websites for cancer information. See Bag It’s resource page for more than 150 websites.

 

Resource topics include:

  • Types of Cancer
  • Clinical Trials
  • Side-Effects
  • Survivorship
  • Caregivers and Family Resources
  • Parenting and Fertility
  • Supportive Care—Emotional Support, Palliative Care, Complementary & Integrative Therapies
  • Insurance, Managing Costs, and Financial Assistance
  • Legal Rights, Workplace, Advance Care Planning
  • Resources in Spanish

 

If you were recently diagnosed:

  • Assemble and work closely with all the members of your healthcare team.
  • Learn about your cancer diagnosis and treatment options with potential side effects to help you make informed decisions about your treatment and care. Consider getting a second opinion.
  • Use the My Appointments Summary Log found in My Companion Guidebook to write down your questions in advance of appointments. Make sure you fully understand the answers provided and take notes.
  • Bring someone with you to every appointment, especially at the beginning.
  • Express fully and honestly what you need and want—to your healthcare team, caregivers, family members, and friends.
  • Watch our short “How to use the Bag It bag” video.
Beacon Group

Beacon Group

Written by Beacon Group…

For the last eight years, Beacon Group has assembled bags for Bag It, one of the country’s leading resource centers for cancer recovery that provides resources, tools, and services for patients, caregivers and advocates. The resource bags that Beacon puts together include a wide variety of materials that need to be collated, inserted and packaged in a specific way.

Beacon assembles over 8,000 bags per year, and that number is expected to grow as Bag It expands distribution across the country.   Teamwork was a big part of the process, especially when major changes for Bag It’s organization required production adjustments for a new bag design.  Flexibility and communication strengths from both sides contribute to the success of the arrangement.   Bag It’s executive director, Mindy Griffith, explains ”I like the idea that we are supporting individuals with disabilities of course.  But your service is phenomenal!  If we have questions, they are answered quickly.  If there are problems, they are taken care of.”

Read more…

Thank you for helping to raise over $38,000 at the 15th Annual Take a Hike for BAG IT​

Thank you for helping to raise over $38,000 at the 15th Annual Take a Hike for BAG IT​

Wrap Up Collage
TAKE A HIKE + YOU =
A great fun filled Sunday morning at Catalina State Park celebrating 15 years of Take a Hike for Bag It ! Whether you joined us for a beautiful scenic morning, sponsored a bag from home, or were with us in spirit, we appreciate your support!
 
Dan Marries, Tucson News anchor, welcomed our hikers back to the Ramada that was rocking to the music from LatinoBazaar and encouraged them to join in on all the fun and activities! Guests enjoyed their meal choice from Gigi’s food truck, a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Raffle, Silent Auction, and Spin the Wheel and played “Where’s the Bag It bag.” Sandra Valenzuela, a volunteer that has been with Bag It from the very beginning shared about how she got started and why she continues to volunteer and support Bag It. We were able to say a big THANK YOU to founding board member, Dr. Don Brooks, who recently stepped down after 15 years of board service (don’t worry we’re going to keep him involved in some aspect) and acknowledged eight sponsors who have supported Bag It for all 15 years. With the help of 55 wonderful volunteers, 150 awesome attendees, and 19 generous sponsors, Bag It was able to raise over $38,000 to help EDUCATE, SUPPORT & EMPOWER those impacted by cancer.
SPONSOR A BAG

Sponsor a bag

These donations help ensure that anyone who wants a Bag It bag can receive one at no charge. If someone does not receive a bag from their medical provider and are unable to make a suggested donation they can call us and because of YOU we are able to send them a bag to help them be informed and feel empowered to be their own advocate.
Thank you for providing 60 individuals with cancer a bag through your Sponsor a Bag donations.
And the winner is . . . Rosa  Rousseau. Congratulations Rosa! We hope you have a great time when you journey to Phoenix.
What Sherri is Doing Now

What Sherri is Doing Now

Sherri Romanoski, Founder of BAG IT, transitioned from the position of Executive Director to a new role of Senior Advisor in April, 2017. This is a blog about what she is doing now with and for BAG IT.

So everyone asks….are you really retired? The answer is a robust “NO!” But I was very ready to slow down, change gears somewhat, enjoy the people in my life more (my five grandchildren, family and friends) and take time for things I really enjoy. This transition took a lot of planning and patience, but it is actually happening! (Look for my next blog on the complex subject of Founders leaving organizations.)

So what does a Senior Advisor do? I get to focus on areas that benefit BAG IT but also tap into my skills acquired over the years working with BAG IT, my classroom teaching, curriculum writing, and grant writing. Who gets to do that? Use all their skills and experience to advance a worthwhile effort? A very happy person!

Grant writing is a technical skill that benefits an organization to bring in much needed revenue as well as raise awareness and effectiveness of programs. Since April, I have been focused on submitting or helping with submissions of 15 grants for both BAG IT and one of its programs, ESCAPE to Thrive Leadership Conference for Cancer Advocates. We are hopeful that many will award funding. Our grants are submitted to foundations, corporations, and partners.

ESCAPE to Thrive Leadership Conference for Cancer Advocates was launched in 2011. It’s an interesting story…BAG IT had been helping USOncology with its Life Beyond Cancer Conference (LBC) for survivors for eight years beginning in 2003. Those of us who developed, organized, and managed the conference had a hope – to someday support survivors who were encouraged to return to their communities from Life Beyond Cancer and fill gaps in cancer care with organizations, programs, and efforts. In essence, become advocates. (The seed for BAG IT was actually planted at this conference in 2001 when my mom and I, both cancer survivors, attended and got truly inspired.) After much deliberation, when the LBC run came to a close, the key people were tired and ready to move on. Except for me. With approval from a very understanding BAG IT Board that was willing to pilot an extremely unique conference, we launched ESCAPE to Thrive. That was seven years ago. I am responsible for its development, conceptual framework, and management with tremendous support and expertise from our amazing BAG IT staff. The topics, attendees, speakers, and schedule changes each year but fundamentally, it supports cancer advocates in the tremendously tough job they do in educating and supporting cancer patients.

ESCAPE to Thrive is a lot of heart-wrenching work on many levels. I love it. I hope I have the energy to keep doing it and we can get enough financial support to continue this supportive program for fellow advocates. It’s our gift to them.

The third and most lovely task I have is to mentor and support our new young leader and Executive Director, Mindy Griffith. She believes so much in our work, is anxious to learn, and shows an intense desire to lead BAG IT to its next level. I have been a teacher in one form or another since 1974. Mentoring Mindy is a joy and I anticipate and expect great things from her….including change!