While I may have taken some time off from blogging, I’ve remained active as a patient advocate and had many exciting opportunities to share my experience as a millennial thyroid cancer survivor and a caregiver to my 94-year-old-grandmother.
Since my cancer diagnosis in 2013 at the age of 26, I’ve found sharing my story to be an integral part of my wellness journey. I remember in the early days of my diagnosis feeling so alone. I didn’t know anyone my age who had thyroid cancer, and I kept coming across what I would consider horror stories on the Internet. I knew that I wanted to be able to share the resources I had acquired during my diagnosis with other young cancer patients and survivors. A year after my diagnosis, I started this site as a cathartic outlet. I never dreamed that it would lead me into the world of advocacy or that I would want to create a career around this field. But that’s what happened.
As a caregiver, I feel like my story has come full-circle. I know firsthand what it’s like to receive a cancer diagnosis, and I also understand how to care for someone with cancer (my grandmother is a 2x breast cancer survivor). But the reality of caregiving for someone with dementia is very different. Once again, I find myself on a long and lonely journey, coming across vital resources when and where I can, and doing my best to piece everything together one day at a time. Except this time, I know I’m not alone in this. According to AARP, there are approximately 10 million millennial caregivers out there, who, just like me, are trying to care for a loved one…and themselves. That statistic led me to co-found The Hospital Bar, a community where caregivers can come together to help raise the bar for healthcare advocacy.
For me, the best part of working in patient advocacy is to be able to make a direct impact on the lives of patients and caregivers by sharing my story. I’ve also enjoyed meeting amazing people through some of the outlets that have featured my work.
Here are some of my recent media appearances:
- Out of Patients with Matthew Zachary: The Syllables Show with Vanessa Steil
- How in the Health – S2 : E1 Vanessa Steil – Surviving Cancer, Patient Advocacy, and Caregiving
- Drama-Free Healthy Living With Jess Cording: Episode 131: An Interview with Vanessa Steil
- Being Patient – In Care Facilities, an “Invisible Workforce” of Unpaid Caregivers
- Medium – Vanessa Steil: I Survived Cancer and Here Is How I Did It
If you’d like to learn more about my story or background in patient advocacy, visit the press page for more of my features.