Jill Meyer-Lippert, RDH - March 10, 2022
Women Who Have Inspired Me
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”
― Barack Obama
When a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, it can bring a level of fear and helplessness that is difficult to describe. The entire family is thrust into a world of unknowns with the harsh reality of the importance of each decision that you make, like choosing your care team and trusting that the information and treatment recommendations will provide the best chance for a positive outcome. It’s quite easy to feel a loss of control through the process.
This was most certainly the case when both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer. While they both had amazing oncology teams who were kind and caring, it was obvious that our decisions were completely dependent on their advice and it was a hard pill to swallow when they didn’t have answers to our questions or solutions for our concerns.
My mom’s breast cancer diagnosis came at nearly the same time that I began my first job in the dental field, 30 years ago. When her chemotherapy brought painful side effects in her mouth, I was eager to hear what her nurses would recommend. I was sure that the solutions provided would not only help my mom but be something I could carry along with me to benefit others throughout my future career in dentistry. It felt confusing, disappointing, and frustrating when, instead of being provided with relief, she was told that it was “part of treatments” and that she would “just need to deal with it.”
My initial shock and anger at the lack of direction for her oral side effects were quickly turned to dismay when I realized my more experienced dental colleagues also had little guidance to provide. I learned that her experience was, unfortunately, all too common. This was clearly an area where cancer patients needed and deserved more from their healthcare providers.
Even after the internet arrived, this subject matter was still difficult to find, and weeding through it all was and is a daunting task. Cancer patients and family caregivers are already typically overwhelmed and often don’t even know oral side effects are a concern until they occur. They have then missed out on the opportunity to be proactive to delay the onset, minimize the severity or possibly prevent the problems. It’s also unrealistic that healthcare providers will have the time or energy to research solutions for all side effects of therapies being administered to save a life. But the reality is that side effects in the mouth are far more than a comfort issue and can increase infection risks and affect treatment outcomes. Oral side effects can impact nutrition, speaking, and swallowing abilities. They can also negatively affect psychosocial and financial wellbeing. The problems, for some, can last a lifetime. They should not be dismissed.
As years passed, I so often wished there was an easy-to-use resource for patients and family caregivers that provided solutions. Something that could empower medical teams and dental teams to provide collaboration of care. A central hub for information, products, and services to offer knowledge, options, convenience, and hope. Eventually, it was time for the wishing to end and action to began.
Side Effect Support, LLC was created with this vision in mind. It serves patients, loved ones, and healthcare providers with free, easy-to-access information under our Blogs sections with a “Filter By” bar to search for subject matter. Free patient informational brochures for adults and children can be printed under Resources. A Shop tab offers affordable over-the-counter oral care products with home delivery. Expanded products and services with discounts from partner companies offering “thinking outside of the box” solutions in our growing Partner's Marketplace. Virtual dental care is also available 24/7, 365 days a year within 10 minutes or less provided by The TeleDentists.
Side Effect Support is designed to provide not only knowledge and tangible items but also to offer hope during a time that can often feel hopeless and helpless. It helps patients to take more control over their own comfort and quality of life during the treatment process and throughout survivorship. It also allows us, as healthcare providers, to honor the trust that our patients are putting into us and do what we do best, provide them with exceptional care.