Former Femk Cancer Patient Creates Buddy System: ‘She Knew What I Was Going Through’
“The happy voices in the hallway sounded eerie in the area where I was sitting, the oncology waiting room,” says Femke. In early 2017, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “The voices came closer and I saw a beautiful couple, and the woman was wearing a hat. Despite the cancer, this woman was radiating powerfully. So she could be a patient, but she could also be middle-aged.”
Vemke wanted it too and expressed interest to Animek Duksin, the oncology surgeon who treated her. I immediately knew who you were talking about and asked the woman if she was open to a conversation. “Hester and I talked for an hour and could write a book out of the app contact we had after that.”
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It’s good to have a friend when everything is uncertain, Vimke continues. “For example, my husband read that walking during chemo is good. I thought: It’s good for you, but you don’t know how it feels, how tired I am. I’ve never felt that way, but by walking I feel better,” Hester texted. This letter motivates me, because she must know.”
Women write about bright apple-red cheeks after taking a certain medication, and checkpoints, they encourage each other. “The connection was very valuable. Other women told about it and more patients wanted a mate. Within a year we had 150 records.”
Smart matching system
There are now about a thousand friends at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Utrecht, where Vimke was being treated. We have been asked to upgrade other departments. “Like a buddy system for children with diabetes and for parents whose babies are in neonatal intensive care.”
What began in 2019 with an Excel list full of names is now a system powered by intelligent matchmaking. “Everything was taken into account: privacy legislation, but also the wishes and needs of the patient. One has a specific question about choosing which treatment to do, and the other needs several conversations during treatment.”
Buddyhuis is implemented in hospitals and is therefore also regulated by hospitals. Four hospitals are currently using this system.
Animek Doxen is the oncology surgeon who introduces Femky to her friend, Hester. She is a huge supporter of the buddy system. “As a physician, you look primarily at the medical content process, you want a treatment that works as best as possible. But with breast cancer, patients are faced with so much more than a physician can help. Friends provide each other with the extra piece of care over the care we provide.”
Don’t just cry
“It’s really not just screaming. They empower each other, and sometimes going for a walk together brings a lot of positivity,” says Annemiek. According to the doctor’s opinion, this is very necessary during the intensive treatment process. “Illness happens to you, and then you just have to wait and see what you need to do. Conversations with friends give you a little bit of independence. Perspective from someone who’s been through the same thing. Who looks like you and has hair again, a job, maybe kids. It shows you: I can get out of here.” “.
At the hospital in Utrecht, the buddy system has become a community. Young mothers with breast cancer get together Recently, a group of African women of Muslim descent have been linked together. Friends also get involved in the choices the hospital makes. “We’ve recently asked a number of former patients if a diagnosis can be provided in 24 hours or 48 hours. As a hospital, we sometimes have a blind spot on how to organize things.”
The buddy system is not only valuable to the now sick patient, but also to those who have already gone through the process. “Many of the patients who are getting better again, fall into a hole after a whole year of treatments and check-ups. They have to get their lives back, go out into the outside world again. That can be very exciting. If you can do something for another patient, that’s it.” Not only is it very valuable, but it also helps your special treatment. We didn’t think about that in advance.”
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