Suzi F. Garber
The late Dr. Tom Ferguson coined the phrase “e-patients” i.e., “equipped, enabled, empowered and engaged in their health care decisions”. It was a short path for Suzi from e-patient to embodying the persona of patient navigator and advocate, both of which are emerging professionals in the healthcare field.
Suzi’s initial effort was to gather a support group for her cancer (carcinoid –a neuroendocrine tumor (NET) by pounding on doors in Philadelphia in a community outreach campaign. As a logical next step, she advocated for a neuroendocrine tumor (NET) clinical program at University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center. This became a reality in 2010. Suzi became a featured patient at Abramson Cancer Center; this past year she was recognized as patient advocate of the year at Abramson.
Suzi has addressed audiences of medical doctors and patients in New Orleans’ Ochsner Health Care System, at University of Pennsylvania and at Temple University’s Project Shine program. She remains patient liaison for the NET program at Penn working closely with the team doctors as an integral part of their outreach program. She is also a patient liaison for the largest NET clinic in the country (New Orleans) and has consulted with well-known national foundations supporting rare cancers.
She founded The Patients’ Project, a nonprofit, in 2011 to address health literacy among underserved populations. She is currently developing a curriculum mirroring the techniques she learned while searching for her own treatment. Besides advocating for health care issues in the community, Suzi also counsels newly-diagnosed cancer patients and their families, helps others navigate our health care system, and is editor of a health care newsletter, The Practical Patient, which serves to encourage others to become empowered and equal partners in their healthcare.