Florida Cancer Specialists Press Release

Two Upcoming Digital Sherpa Workshops Offer Unique Support to Local Cancer Patients


Fort Myers, FL – March 9, 2017……… In partnership with Patient Empowerment Network (PEN) and Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) is pleased to announce two upcoming Digital Sherpa Workshops on Thursday, March 16, 2017 and Thursday, April 27, 2017 at its Gladiolus Cancer Center (8260 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers, FL). The workshops are open to FCS patients, caregivers and friends..

Hosted by PEN, the Digital Sherpa Program aims to help cancer patients and their families become more tech-savvy. The program’s workshops educate patients and caregivers in basic internet and social media skills to help them in their search for information about their illness and support for them and their families.

Cancer patients, known as “Climbers” in the program, are paired with FGCU students, known as “Sherpas”, who have been specially trained by PEN to offer skills such as:

  • Internet use (such as opening an email account, navigating Google, and creating and remembering passwords)
  • Social media skills (including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)
  • Creating virtual connections with other cancer patients via on-line patient support communities
  • How to use apps such as Uber and other ride-share services to get to appointments

Research suggests that many older cancer patients lack basic internet and social media skills which creates an obstacle for them when they try to go on-line to access information about their illness, or support from other patients and patient advocacy groups. Often they become overwhelmed with the abundance of information and do not know how or where to find the help they need.

“By producing this program, we want to show what can be done to help cancer patients and their families become more tech-savvy, more educated, more self-confident and more in control of their cancer journey,” said Joan Justice, PEN’s Executive Director. “By pairing digital natives (FGCU students) with the older generation, we hope to create an empathetic and powerful relationship that is an asset to any community.”

“We are pleased to partner with PEN and FGCU to offer this innovative program to our patients,” said FCS CEO Bradley Prechtl. “Ensuring that our patients and their families know how to access helpful information online is a big plus.”

Dr. William Harwin, Founder and President of Florida Cancer Specialists, added, “Our collaboration with PEN and FGCU to provide this unique program reflects our mission of patient-centered care. The more education we can provide to patients, their families and caregivers, the better equipped they are to be active participants in their own healthcare.”

“The Digital Sherpa Program is beneficial to both the cancer patients and the Florida Gulf Coast University students involved. The patients gain technological knowledge that connects them with up-to-date information pertaining to early detection or successful treatments; the FGCU students acquire valuable and transferrable skills such as the ability to communicate effectively, problem solve, and build relationships – which was the best part of all!” said Jessica Rhea, Director of Community Engagement at Florida Gulf Coast University.

"I enjoyed the casual, fun atmosphere and being able to ask the students about the technology questions I have rather than having to ask my children for help," said one Digital "Climber" following a recent workshop.

The Climber’s Digital “Sherpa” added, "The barrier of age was broken between us. I loved the connection and bond we made!"

Workshops will be held on March 16 and April 27 from 2:30-4:30PM at Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute, 8260 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33908.

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About Patient Empowerment Network: (www.powerfulpatients.org)
Our mission is to fortify cancer patients and caregivers globally with knowledge and tools, boosting their confidence and putting them in control of their healthcare journey and assisting them to get the state-of-the-art, personalized care they deserve. For more information, please visit our website http://www.powerfulpatients.org/ Watch our video to learn more about the Digital Sherpa Program https://vimeo.com/194117518/7d9137b737

About Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute: (FLCancer.com)
Founded in 1984, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) is the largest independent medical oncology/hematology practice in the United States. With over 200 physicians, 160 nurse practitioners and physician assistants and nearly 100 locations in our network, we are committed to providing world-class cancer care in community-based settings close to home.

Recognized by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) with a national Clinical Trials Participation Award, FCS offers patients access to more clinical trials than any private oncology practice in Florida. 84% of new cancer drugs approved in 2015 for use in the U.S. were studied in clinical trials conducted with FCS participation*. Our physicians are consistently ranked nationally as Top Doctors by U.S. News & World Report. Trained in such prestigious medical schools and research institutes as Duke, Stanford, Harvard, Emory, M.D. Anderson, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the physicians of Florida Cancer Specialists provide leadership and consultation in the state's leading hospitals.

FCS serves patients on the Gulf Coast from Naples to the greater Tampa Bay area, north as far as Tallahassee, in Orlando and surrounding Central Florida communities, and on the East Coast in Daytona/Palm Coast, Vero Beach/Sebastian and in Palm Beach County.

Florida Cancer Specialists has built a national reputation for excellence that is reflected in exceptional and compassionate patient care, driven by innovative clinical research and cutting-edge technologies that help advance targeted treatments and genetically-based immunotherapies, and embodied by our outstanding team of highly-trained and dedicated physicians, clinicians and staff.

* Prior to approval

For More Information, Contact:
Patient Empowerment Network
Andrea Conners, Programs Director
770.365.6168

Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation & Research Institute
Shelly Glenn, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer -
770.365.6168

Chappell Roberts
Chris Wilkerson -
813.281.0088 ext. 315

Ganick Communications, Inc.
Elaine Ganick -
615.377.7877