Meet the Janie Appleseed Team

AfAmMom

Meesha (TX)

I educate and support new JAN members in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.

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What’s your personal situation?

I’m married with two young children. I have to make every minute count.

What interested you in PHRs and health literacy? What made you decide to become a Janie?

I read about the idea of a PHR in a lady’s magazine. After two difficult pregnancies and a battle with weight gain, plus all the work of keeping track of my kid’s physicals and immunizations for school, sports and camp, I decided to find out more about starting a PHR. Logging into all our different doctors’ patient portals was driving me crazy. My husband’s parents are getting older, too. They live near us and started to need more help from us on top of raising our own family. We thought setting up their own PHRs might make it easier to care for them over the coming years. I joined the Janie Appleseed Network to find out more about how maintaining a PHR could help my family and I learn how to go about getting started with this new technology.

It wasn’t a big decision for me. After joining the Janie Appleseed Network and getting started with a PHR for myself, my husband, my children and husband’s parents, I found myself sharing the story with family and friends. As a family, it was changing things in our day-to-day life. I found myself sharing stories about using new things I’d learned. People from my church and neighbors started asking me questions and they wanted me to help them get started. In a way, I became a Janie by accident. A Janie is really just someone who connects others with this network. Once I became a Janie, I started to realize the training and skills development I was getting benefited all aspects of my life and my career. I’m so glad I took the step to officially take on the role. The leadership and communication skills I’m learning are so beneficial and the position was a good fit for me at this time in my family’s life.

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Clare (MN)

I educate and support new JAN members in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

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What’s your personal situation?

My husband of 17 years just passed away from pancreatic cancer. His illness and recent death has changed everything for our family.

What interested you in PHRs and health literacy? What made you decide to become a Janie?

Robert’s illness made us both so aware of the challenges and importance of tracking your health information. He did such a good job of monitoring all his test results and medications. It was a tremendous amount of work. He used Excel because there wasn’t any sort of PHR technology available. I want to do a good job of capturing information about Robert’s condition that might be valuable for the children to keep in their PHRs since pancreatic cancer can be hereditary.

I found Janie Appleseed Network because I was looking for a better way to start creating a health record for each of my kids. It just seemed like there should be a better option than having to invent something myself in Excel. I wanted a single environment that I controlled, but something I could easily give them a copy of someday when they were old enough to start maintaining it themselves. The MyPHD PHR offered just what I was looking for. The tool was designed to make it easy to record all sorts of health information and I can attach other images and stories that help me capture life memories along the way. I’ve been going back through old photos and posting shots with Robert and each child, so they’ll never forget how much their dad loved them and enjoyed his time with them. The whole process is helping me grieve and heal. It’s a good way to keep a dialog open with kids too about how they’re coping with the loss.

I became a Janie because I wanted to share my story with other families who are going through loss. I met so many families during Robert’s treatments who are facing the same challenges we are. I wanted to be a resource to them. Many of them don’t have the computer skills to feel comfortable getting started on their own. Connecting with others and focusing on things I can do to make a positive difference keeps me going. The people I support are helping me as much as I’m helping them.

mom1

Gloria (FL)

I educate and support new JAN members in the Miami metropolitan area.

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What’s your personal situation?

I’m divorced with two teenaged daughters

What interested you in PHRs and health literacy? What made you decide to become a Janie?

I found the Janie Appleseed Network when I was struggling with the question of how to help my daughters know how to make healthy decisions as they started making more choices for themselves. I started a PHR for myself and one for each of them and populated it with information and photos I had collected over the years. What started out as a sort of digital scrap booking project grew into so much more. We moved from seeing these PHRs as past health histories to seeing them as a “life clock”—something that helped us gain perspective on the time of life we’re in. It has become a great learning tool and has made so many conversations easier to have. My eldest is getting ready to head off to college next year. I used her PHR as a way of talking about a health record with no history of sexually transmitted diseases. “This is your health history,” I said. “You make the decisions that determine much of what will be documented here over the course of your life”. I could tell by the look in her eyes that she really understood the power she has over the course her life will take.

When I saw what a difference having a PHR made in my life and my daughters’, I really wanted to share that with other people. Plus, I’m a single mom and I want to make some extra money to help put my girls through college. I dreaded getting a second job. Working to share my story with others and educate others on what I was learning myself about using a PHR seemed like it would be rewarding. It was an opportunity to improve my computer skills, learn how to do on-line meetings and develop my communication and leadership skills. I’ve always been active in my community, so it seemed like a natural extension of everything I was already involved in doing anyway.

womanparents

Ava (IL)

I educate and support new JAN members in the Chicago metropolitan area.

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What’s your personal situation?

My folks live in a small town near Detroit.

What interested you in PHRs and health literacy? What made you decide to become a Janie?

Someone from work who was going through a similar time with his parents told me about the Janie Appleseed Network. I found the information to be so helpful. Starting a PHR for each of my folks has made my life so much easier. I can see what’s going on with their care and maintain all the information I need to track for them, even though I’m not right there. I have so many friends who are in the same boat.  After seeing what a difference it made for me to learn how to use this new technology, I became a Janie so I could help others get started, too. Being part of a network of people who are all struggling to deal with similar issues makes me feel like I’m doing something really valuable. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but there’s just something really rewarding about reaching out on a more personal level to educate and help people. I feel good about helping others learn new skills that address a very fundamental need to care for family members.

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Seo-Yun (CA)

I educate and support new JAN members in the San Francisco Bay metropolitan area.

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What’s your personal situation?

I’ve been married for 35 years. I’m 60 and my husband is 68. My daughter and her husband live near us in the Bay area, too. I have two grandchildren aged nine and seven.

What interested you in PHRs and health literacy? What made you decide to become a Janie?

My husband retired two years ago. I wasn’t ready to retire fully, but I was looking to shift into doing something less demanding and more flexible than my position as a program administrator. My daughter and son-in-law both work long hours. I wanted to be able to help them out around home and spend more time with my husband and our grandchildren.

Working with the Janie Appleseed Network gave me time to spend with my family and it allowed me to get more involved in my local community. After years of commuting to a down-town office, it has been wonderful to be working in the area right where I live. I’ve met so many nice people and feel like I’m really making a difference in people’s lives. From younger families, like my daughter’s, struggling to keep up with work and home, to middle-age people, like my husband and myself, who are helping to care for others in their families, to older people who are trying to remain independent as long as possible. There are so many people seeking to live healthier lives. Being able to show them how to use a PHR to track their goals and their progress really makes me feel useful. I love to show them how to use IT for health. I also love being able to talk about wellness as more than just physical health. This more holistic view of health really resonates with many people. I work with local banks to offer programs about financial health, the schools to talk about educational health, the local churches to talk about spiritual health, and our local land trust to talk about environmental health. It is a much more well-rounded way to think about health in general. . I’ve always felt my legacy in life would be the lives of others that I have touched. Providing health literacy education and support seemed perfectly aligned with my values. It has been a wonderful step in my final working years doing such meaningful work.

MillWife2

Sara (MA)

I educate and support new JAN members in the Boston metropolitan area.

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What’s your personal situation?

Jorge and I have been married for almost three years and have a six month old son.

What interested you in PHRs and health literacy? What made you decide to become a Janie?

We were struggling to make ends meet and I was considering going back to work, but neither of us thought that would be best for our infant son. I had started using MyPHD to track my health during the pregnancy and then I started a PHR for the baby just before he was born. I used to work in a medical records department at a hospital, so using a PHR came really easy to me. When I shared stories with my friends and called up photos or information I had stored in the baby’s PHR, they all wanted me to show them how. Jorge and I looked at what I could make supporting the Janie Appleseed Network. We compared it to what I would make going back to working at the hospital and what it would cost to put Tommy in daycare. Becoming a representative for Janie Appleseed Network just seemed like a better option for us at this point in our lives. I really love the work because I’m interacting with so many people right in my local community. I feel like the computer and communication skills I’m developing are great resume builders, so I’m able to be the kind of mom I want to be without giving up my professional development.