Personal Story Network

Stories that Inform, Comfort and Empower
The Personal Story Network is a collection of first-person accounts from the frontlines of care. Patients, healthcare providers, caregivers, and innovators share their very personal stories about health, healing, and hope within the healthcare system and beyond.

Browse all stories: Asthma, Joint Replacement Surgery, Kidney Cancer and Lung Conditions.

Weighing Choices and Making Decisions

“I hung back while the others descended and then slowly made my way down with both hands clutching the railing. Shortly after that, I made an appointment with a doctor.”

Bruce Alemian about his effort to descend a staircase that triggered his decision to move forward with knee replacement surgery.

Read Bruce’s story in his own words

“I have come across several patients whose enthusiasm for proceeding with the surgery gets washed over with feelings of discouragement when they learn the range of things that must be accomplished in time for the surgery."

Fabiana Torrico, R.N., an orthopedic nurse about the advanced work patients need to do prior to knee replacement surgery.

Read Fabiana's story in her own words

“I worried about the distance. Why couldn’t he settle for a surgeon who was closer?”

Dianna Sinovic, about her husband’s selection of a hip replacement surgeon far from her home.

Read Dianna’s story in her own words

“It’s the only treatment that in a minority of cases produces a cure-like result. But the side effects are severe—they can kill the patient if the case isn’t managed by true experts.”

Dave deBronkart, about a lesser-known kidney cancer treatment he received that he believes extended his life.

Read Dave’s story in his own words

Becoming Empowered and Engaged

“If we could answer just these five questions for our loved ones, we could then focus on making sure the intent they represented was honored.”

Alexandra Drane, an entrepreneur about encouraging people to answer hard questions, so loved ones know how they want to die when the time comes.

Read Alexandra's story in her own words

"Your chance of a successful procedure will dramatically improve when you assume an active, participatory role.”

Howard Luks, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon about the importance of an involved patient in the success of knee replacement surgery.

Read Dr. Luk’s story in his own words

“We encourage nutrition and physical therapy consults to move the patient away from a passive to a more active stance.”

Smitha Gollamudi, M.D., a radiation oncologist about putting the next phase of treatment and recovery in the patient’s hands.

Read Dr. Gollamudi’s story in her own words

My hope is that we can lower barriers to patient engagement, that all patients will view health care as a participatory sport rather than as a spectator sport, and that all physicians will welcome them to do so.

Danny Sands, M.D., about lowering barriers to patient engagement and the importance of the principles of participatory medicine in treating people with kidney cancer.

Read Dr. Sand’s story in his own words

“I believe and my hospital believes that informed patients have better outcomes.”

David McDermott, M.D., a medical oncologist on how active participation through patient websites can impact a person’s health.

Read Dr. McDermott’s story in his own words

Planning and Preparing For Care

“The day of your test is not the time to start asking questions. Do your investigating before you get to your appointment.”

Elaine McDonald, a nuclear medicine professional about the importance of getting the right information before heading to a diagnostic test.

Read Elaine’s story in her own words

“Do everything you can to make sure that an advanced directive has been created and signed and that someone has medical power of attorney.”

Meredith Gould, personal home health aide about the need for people to prepare for the future.

Read Meredith’s story in her own words

Dealing With Emotions and Facing Fears

"At age 11, Morgan is a remarkable young lady, and a great deal of the credit for that goes to her parents."

Trisha Torrey, a nationally-known patient advocate, sat down with Morgan McCall, an inspirational 11-year-old girl who was born with cystic fibrosis. The whole family is involved with Morgan’s care, and they have a unique story to tell.

Read Trisha’s moving encounter with the McCall family

“I’m going to tell my doctor it doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. And I can still eat anything I want.”

Morgan McCall about her conquering her fears about a feeding tube in her stomach to help provide nutrition for cystic fibrosis.

Read Morgan’s story in her own words

“When Morgan started school, the other kids would ask me questions all the time... I watch out for her as much as I can in school.”

Brandt McCall, brother of Morgan McCall, who was born with cystic fibrosis.

Read Brandt’s story in his own words

“When a child has really special needs, a lot of it takes away family time. Sometimes it’s a fine line—not to neglect or push aside the one child for the other.”

Paula and Steve McCall, on the challenges of parenting their healthy son and daughter with cystic fibrosis.

Read Paula and Steve McCall’s story in their own words

“I couldn’t help but worry and wonder: What if it didn’t work?”

Phil Bonasia, athletic 70-year old about his hesitancy to undergo knee replacement surgery.

Read Phil’s story in his own words

“What shall I say? As I sing, I wonder what he must be feeling.”

Matthew Klein, a hospital chaplain and cantor summoned by a man at the end of his life.

Read Matthew Klein’s story in his own words

“I was able to take something that was tragic and turn it into something positive.”

Miral Kotb, a sarcoma survivor about how her cancer journey impacted her future as a professional dancer.

Read Miral’s story in her own words

Collaborating and Communicating With the Care Team

“Fred was hospitalized at five facilities in 11 weeks.”

Regina Holliday, caregiver to her husband with kidney cancer about many different care transitions her husband endured.

Read Regina’s story in her own words

Realizing Limitations and Resisting Obstacles

“I’m a strong woman, but caring for a loved one 24 hours a day really took a toll on me. I found myself going outside each night to look at the stars, just to get away from the situation.”

Sharry Swanson, about caring for her husband with pulmonary fibrosis in their home.

Read Sharry’s story in her own words

“Kids tend to be more resilient and can wait until they are very, very tight before coming for care. Elderly may come for care sooner since they may have less reserve energy to last.”

Enoch Choi, a primary care physician and father of a child with asthma about getting care for asthma attacks.

Read Enoch’s story in his own words

“People always seem so cold, especially doctors, saying you should just get rid of your pets. I ignore it.”

Stephen Gaudet, patient with severe asthma about the flack he gets for keeping his cat.

Read Stephen’s story in his own words

“We frequently treat children onsite and send them right back to class.”

Amy K. Schouten R.N., about the Kunsberg School, a small school that cares for children with chronic illness that is 100 yards from National Jewish Health pediatric triage unit.

Read Amy’s story in her own words

Recuperating and Regaining Control

“I was in there four, five hours a day, and I would’ve done more if they had let me.”

Jim Barrows about being totally consumed by the physical therapy following his knee replacement surgery

Read Jim’s story in his own words

“Although it was 40 years ago…the feelings, and some of the aftereffects, do not change.“

Robin Rogers a Wilm’s tumor survivor about the ever-present health issues that she faces from treatment she received as a child.

Read Robin’s story in her own words

Personal Story Network

A place where patients, healthcare providers, caregivers, and innovators share their personal stories about healing, and hope within the healthcare system and beyond.

What's Causing Your Symptoms?

15 Ways To Get Better Medicine

People who are actively involved in their medical care stay healthier, recover quicker when they're ill, and live longer, healthier lives.