Raise your hand if you postponed or converted to telemedicine visits for “nonessential,” routine and/or preventive healthcare early in the Covid 19 pandemic. If yes, many of us did the same thing.

As stay-at-home restrictions lifted, many providers started seeing more patients in person while still offering a virtual option. But there can be confusion around which appointments we should now schedule to see the doctor in person. 

Simple blood tests, urine tests and direct exams can detect early cancers, diabetes, hypertension and many other illnesses. Some critical aspects of care, like a physical exam, can only be performed in the office. Another question is whether it is safe to schedule overdue or upcoming screening tests and other procedures – especially as the pandemic continues to rise in many communities. 

These are shared decisions between you and your healthcare provider. Keep in mind that your provider wants you to be in touch and wants you to get the medical care that you need. Call your doctor’s office to discuss your particular healthcare situation. Speak candidly about any concerns and questions you have, as well as making clear your needs and preferences. Together you can assess what’s best for you and make a game plan for your care.

If you’ll be scheduling an appointment for an in-person visit you will probably be asked if you are experiencing any Covid-related symptoms and if anyone in your home has tested positive for Covid-19. 

Healthcare providers receive guidelines from state, local, county health departments and the CDC about how to safely operate their facility while minimizing risk to patients and their staffs. Many providers have implemented scheduling, staffing and technology tools to complement the physical distancing procedures and environmental changes they have made. If you are not automatically provided with the pertinent detail when you schedule your appointment, click here for some questions to ask the scheduler about the practices in place. You can also check out the provider’s website for information posted there about steps they are taking. 



For more tips on how to safely navigate an in-person medical appointment, read below

  • If you are experiencing Covid-related symptoms the day of your in-person appointment, call the provider’s office for guidance before you go in.
  • When you arrive to the facility, you will likely find new procedures and safety precautions put in place since your last visit. Follow the requested instructions and communicate with the staff if you observe something or are asked to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Wear a mask or face covering throughout your visit unless you need to remove it for a procedure or are requested to do so by your provider.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol before and after touching any surfaces in waiting areas, exam rooms, and other common areas. Avoid touching surfaces as much as possible.
  • Avoid touching your face, including your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow, and throw away the tissue. When wearing a mask, cough or sneeze into the mask.
  • Follow social distancing recommendations as much as possible.


The doctor will “see you” now

Telehealth (A.K.A. telemedicine) has been around for a long time although many of us are experiencing our first “virtual visit” with our healthcare provider this year. This “live,” 2-way visit usually includes video and audio communication via high speed internet access using a mobile device, tablet, or computer with a web camera. Alternatively, a phone call using a landline telephone can also be considered a televisit.

While not a perfect substitute for in-person healthcare, most people find it to be less stressful, more efficient and less time-consuming, with no need to travel to an office or wait for their provider.

Certain types of appointments are better suited for telehealth such as primary care and follow-up visits, health screenings and wellness visits, medication management check-ins, and behavioral healthcare.

Most insurers have expanded coverage (including Medicare and Medicaid) for telehealth visits. Contact your provider to find out what telehealth options are available for your next appointment.

Making a Telehealth appointment:

  • Contact your provider’s office to determine if a telehealth appointment is an option. In some cases you may be able to make the appointment online on their website.
  • If you are not sure if televisits are covered by your insurer and your provider cannot confirm, call your insurance company or visit the website.
  • If you are scheduled for a telehealth visit, the office provides an app they want you to download. It could be Zoom, Skype or another telehealth app used by their office. They usually send you the link and instructions by text or email in advance so you can download it beforehand.
  • Ask if there are any medical records that your provider needs in advance of the appointment for the doctor’s review and determine how they will be sent.

Prepare for your appointment:

  • Find a quiet (and ideally) private place indoors. Have light in front of you, not in back of you. Avoid sitting in front of a window as it could make it difficult for the doctor to see your face.
  • Consider having someone join you as a scribe, another set of ears and to handle the camera if the provider wants to see you move or view a particular part of your body. 
  • Have a pen and paper handy to write down notes, instructions you are given, and answers to your questions.
  • Write down your questions in advance and be clear on what your goal is for this appointment.
  • Fill out any paperwork and gather any reports, health history, logs and other requested information. Forward to the provider if needed for review in advance, any symptoms or readings you’ve collected.  
  • Ensure your medication list is up to date and any allergies are noted.  You can also place the medication bottles within reach to reference during the call. Have your pharmacy details handy.

Tech Tips:

  • Don’t sit in front of a bright window as it can obscure your face on the provider’s camera. Avoid light behind you from windows or lamps.
  • Download and test the app to be used during your appointment. Check the audio. Make sure your device is charged.
  • If you are using Facetime, Zoom, Skype, Google Meet or another accessible platform, you may want to practice before your appointment with your provider by using it during a social visit with a family member or friend.
  • Keep the camera steady. If you are using a phone you may need to prop it up or use a stand.
  • Turn off other streaming applications, music, notifications, etc. during the visit.

During the appointment:

  • Seat yourself facing the screen so your face is in the center and fully visible with the camera at eye level. 
  • Open the app or platform a few minutes before the appointment time or at the time requested by the provider. You may be placed in a virtual ‘waiting room” until the provider is ready to see you.
  • Before starting the visit your provider may ask for your consent to receive services through telehealth.
  • Make sure you can hear the provider well and see their face if using video.
  • Eliminate distractions such as other people, pets, devices. Do not eat or drink during the session.
  • Your provider may ask you to move a certain part of your body, walk on camera, or move so the camera to examine a particular part of your body, depending on the nature of the visit.
  • Be sure to ask your questions and write down the answers. If you don’t understand what is being said to you, ask for clarification before the call ends.
  • Before the call ends, be sure you are clear on any recommendations given, prescriptions ordered and any additional or follow-up appointments or testing to be scheduled. 
  • Know how to reach your provider by phone or email between appointments.
From Primary Teacher to Executive Director

From Primary Teacher to Executive Director

When you have a question about something, where do you go to find out about it? Did you say “Google”? Okay, I know there are rebels out there, and some of you did not say google (*ahem* library development people, I’m looking at you). But for real, though, it is google, right? I love google. First of all, it’s just fun to say. And over the past few years, I’m pretty sure it’s become my second brain. But it does have a downside. It can lead me on a path to self-diagnosis and worst-case scenarios about something as small as a hangnail.

Now, imagine what happens when someone receives a cancer diagnosis. Is Google really the best place to turn for reliable and accurate information? And, yes, there are some wonderful organizations out there with excellent resources available online, but how do navigate the information without overwhelming yourself with all the possible negative outcomes? How do you know what to even look for?

Mindy Griffith is the Executive Director of BAG IT! Her organization educates, empowers, and connects cancer patients and their caregivers with the right information at the time when they need it most. The resources they create and curate not only provide a road map to help people navigate a cancer diagnosis, they also offer a step-by-step method for organizing necessary medical records throughout treatment.

Mindy also happens to be only the second Executive Director this organization has ever had, and so you know I had to ask her about how the transition went when the founder stepped down. I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by Mindy’s journey from being an elementary school teacher to becoming the Executive Director of a small nonprofit in Tuscon, Arizona.

? Check out our Pinterest Board about resources from Bag It!

? Connect with Mindy on LinkedIn

Mindy joined the Bag It team in 2016 as the Volunteer & Event Coordinator and was selected to be the Executive Director in April 2017.

With overall strategic and operational responsibility for Bag It and the Escape to Thrive programming, Mindy is responsible for the overall strategy and operations of the organization and is truly inspired to work with such a dynamic and committed group of individuals.

Mindy, previously an elementary school teacher and administrator, is passionate about education and the role of lifetime learning. A native of Ohio, Mindy moved to Arizona in 1998. While she loves to travel, she also loves having Tucson as her home.

Bag It!

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Volunteering is a Wonderful Gift

Volunteering is a Wonderful Gift

Volunteering is a wonderful gift, however look what it can GIVE you

1. Volunteering will give you a sense of self-accomplishment.
Of course, volunteer work is doing good for the community around you. But, it can also make you feel good about yourself at the same time. When you help someone in need,  it gives you a sense of accomplishment that can increase your self-confidence tremendously.
2. Volunteering improves your mental health.
Volunteering and helping others will make you a happier person in general and can have a profound effect on your overall psychological well being. Giving of your time and talents and doing something you love is great for your mental health. Volunteering for an organization you have an interest in and getting  involved in your community will help you avoid depression and isolation – you will feel great about helping others. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection with others.
3. Volunteering brings fulfillment to your life.
It is important to balance life with the activities you love. Volunteering for an organization you have a genuine interest in is a relaxing escape from your busy schedule. Doing volunteer work you find meaningful and interesting can be relaxing and can give you an energizing escape from your day-to-day routine of work, school, or other commitments. Changing up your schedule will leave you with renewed creativity, motivation, and vision.
4. Volunteering helps develop new skills and improve current ones.
While motivating and inspiring you to work hard, volunteering can also help you develop your professional skills. Communication, project planning, and teamwork are all great skills to have – and all three are used in volunteering!
5. Volunteering connects you to others.
One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to participate in a shared activity together. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people who share common interests with you. Dedicating your time as a volunteer also helps you expand your network and practice social skills with others.


Do you want to add more meaning to your life?

Join a group of wonderful volunteers?

How about making a difference in the life of those impacted by cancer?

Then take the next step and become a Bag It volunteer!

For further information click here or contact Lisa Terrazas

We Appreciate Our Volunteers

We Appreciate Our Volunteers

Bag It Volunteers

Volunteers are the heart and soul of Bag It’s team. Our volunteers include cancer survivors, their families, their friends, and a number of others in the community who have big hearts and a willingness to support individuals diagnosed with cancer.

We’ve highlighted below a few of our fabulous volunteers.

Believing in the Bag It mission was the main reason Anne joined Bag It in 2004. From helping with miscellaneous office jobs, mini projects, inventory, taking on the role of the hike registration coordinator, a Bag It Ambassador at community events, and helping Bag It spread their awesome work in the community, we can honestly say she has done it ALL – Anne has given so unselfishly of her time and talents to us which we greatly appreciate! While volunteering her time through the years, she can’t name just one favorite experience although she has made strong friendships with staff and others that are also involved with Bag It and those friendships have been life changing!

Aunt B
Aunt B started with Bag It in 2019 and already has donated over 50 chemo caps! She chose to give her time to Bag It because she believed her knitting talent was given to her in order for her to use it to bless others. Knitting and crocheting caps for Bag It to send out with the bags during the winter months allows her to volunteer her time when it is convenient for her. Her favorite volunteer experience has been seeing the faces of the various staff members light up when they look through the chemo caps that she has made.  Since creating various hats of colors and patterns Aunt B has created her own original pattern called the Peppermint Twist – you guessed it – it looks just like candy!

Donn & Andy
Back in 2016 Andy & Donn reached out to Bag It to let us know what an important part we were in Andy’s cancer journey and inquired how they could give back part of what the Bag It bag gave to them. They attended the 2016 Take a Hike for Bag It and have been very busy helping Bag It ever since! They have enjoyed getting to know other volunteers and helping newly diagnosed scared patients who are looking for help. They have been willing to share their story and explain to others how they used the Bag It bag. Knowing that they can help others, see the little bit of apprehension and fear leave them and the comfort when they realize they are not alone in what they are facing has been a wonderful gift to them, Bag It, and many others.

Joan doesn’t recall when she actually started volunteering but believes it was back at the 2012 Take a Hike for Bag It, however she does recall she chose Bag It – because it is a worthwhile cause and she has lost loved ones to cancer. Volunteering for the hike and working with the registration team has been her number one volunteering event. Joan has worked as a hospice nurse and understands the impact Bag It has  to patients and family members. She believes in giving to the community and helping others in need and Bag It has been the beneficiary of that!

Like many of us when a close friend, co worker or family member asks for your help – you are eager to lend a helping hand. So for Michelle it all began back in 2016 – when a friend asked and she said yes! While Michelle has been part of the Registration team at the Take A Hike for Bag It she has been willing to help with other miscellaneous projects. She likes all aspects of giving her time to Bag It and believes her time volunteering has made her a better person.

Natalie has been a consistent hike volunteer since 2014 – well actually that is her best guess – funny how time flies when you are helping others!  She has continued helping Bag It because she understands that it is a great cause and provides an invaluable service for those impacted by cancer. Trail sitting has been her main focus during the hike although a few years back she began taking photos of the hikers and WOW- has she captured some great photos of our hikers with the scenic mountain backdrop. Natalie loves knowing that giving a small amount of her time can help a lot of people.

One never knows where a parent/teacher friendship will lead you…for Sandra that is where it all began. Back in 2003 Sandra began volunteering with Bag It to help out her daughter’s teacher. Sandra was one of the first group of volunteers to assemble the first version of the Bag It bag in Sherri’s home. Fast forward and she still is actively involved because it has been extremely rewarding knowing how many people Bag It has helped. She has given her time with Bag It by doing many projects however, one of her favorites is when she volunteers at a health fair. This gives her the opportunity to meet so many people, and hear their stories. She finds it so rewarding to be able to tell them about the Bag It binder or listen to how they are already using it. Sandra states-I think volunteering is so important. It makes me feel like I am making a difference in someone else’s life, not just mine. I love volunteering for Bag It. It is my passion, and I hope to continue to do so for many more years.

Stan & Heather
Stan and Heather joined the Phoenix group of volunteers back in 2015, they became involved because they understood what a significant resource Bag It was for empowering folks to participate in their treatment. We are very appreciative of their willingness to help share Bag It as it allows us to attend many more Phoenix health & wellness fairs and other opportunities where we would not be able to send a staff member. They have met many cancer survivors, and many Bag It users who have shared many praises of the bag. Stan and Heather do a lot of volunteer work and feel volunteering has enriched their lifestyle.