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College students to volunteer with Knoxville seniors, giving comfort along cancer journey

A group of students will be will be virtually meeting with older patients at the Cancer Support Community of East Tennessee Dec 5.
A group of students will be will be virtually meeting with older patients at the Cancer Support...
A group of students will be will be virtually meeting with older patients at the Cancer Support Community of East Tennessee Dec 5.(WVLT)
Published: Dec. 4, 2020 at 6:25 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Helping a loved one through their cancer battle looks different for everyone.

In Andrea Conners’ case, she saw first-hand the support her mother was missing.

“She didn’t have the digital literacy skills that she needed to be able to successfully navigate her journey,” Conners said.

It’s that observation fueling the Patient Empowerment Network’s free digital learning program for senior cancer patients.

“About five minutes in, everyone is laughing, taking selfies, and it’s really a wonderful thing to see,” Conners, executive director, said.

Conners said the non-profit pairs dozens of college students with each patient helping them search the internet, connect with other patients and family members. The overall mission is to create a layer of confidence and comfort for older patients who struggle to self-advocate along their cancer journey.

“It’s very overwhelming and oftentimes they need to learn a whole new vocabulary. And, we know that patients who have that vocabulary - who are health literate - tend to be more a part of their treatment and therefore have better outcomes,” Conners said.

A group of students will be virtually meeting with older patients at the Cancer Support Community of East Tennessee Dec 5.

Patients can independently learn more for free on the Patient Empowerment Network’s website.

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