Steve Wilkins, BA, MPH
Steve has a Master Degree in Public Health from the University of Michigan where he received his training in consumer health education, consumer health behavior and healthcare management. As a hospital administrator for ten years, Steve has been involved in all facets of inpatient and outpatient cancer diagnostics and treatments, including chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. As a consumer health behavior consultant, he has worked with hospitals and health plans to help them better understand how different consumer segments think about and respond to life threatening conditions like cancer, including how best to communicate with them.
In November of 2003, his wife was diagnosed with Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer. This began a new phase of his life and professional career. Up to that point, Steve thought that he understood how to navigate the healthcare system. But even for experienced healthcare professionals like his wife (an RN) and him, they discovered that they had much to learn about how the system really works. And it was his job to learn it fast.
By mutual agreement, Steve took the lead in researching the diagnosis, current treatment options, clinical trials, best physicians and best hospitals with the single goal of finding the best care for his wife. They ended up at the number #1 Cancer Hospital in the U.S., MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas, where his wife received a second opinion on her course of treatment and where she eventually received a significant part of her treatment. But before they moved to Texas for treatment, perhaps his most important lesson was learning how to persuade our health insurance carrier to cover his wife?s out of town treatment despite having received two previous denials.
During the course of and subsequent to his wife treatment, they have worked informally as advocates for numerous, other newly diagnosed individuals with lung and other cancers. Their focus with these individuals is on first helping them first gain control of the fear and overwhelming depression that comes with the diagnosis of cancer. By taking on role of a Cancer blogger, he hopes to share my knowledge and experience with and even larger audience.
His wife is currently in complete remission and continues to pursue her nursing career. They both live daily with the ever-present fear of recurrence. They continue to travel from our home in San Jose, California to MD Anderson every three months for her routine follow up. They count among our friends and colleagues some of the top cancer experts at MD Anderson and the world, as well as numerous cancer survivors and their caregivers.