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.