Patient Stories

Chiara D'Agostino 

SmartBridge Health swooped in at the right time! 
Recently diagnosed with stage 4 triple-negative breast cancer, my oncologist gave me a list of eighty-four clinical trials to pick from. Distressed, I didn’t know where to start and every place I turned to for help fell short - what medical specialist could help me narrow down this search? In person, oncologists specialize only the trials conducted at the medical facility where they work – I was looking for an un-biased specialist with a bird’s eye view. 

Serendipitously, SmartBridge found ME through my breast cancer blog Beauty Through the Beast and I jumped at the opportunity to receive an expert second opinion. Dr. Jeremy Force from Duke University called me that afternoon to introduce himself and learn my questions – I felt heard. Dr. Force offered to provide me a list of his top five choices of clinical trials best suited for me after reviewing my medical records and attending that week’s American Society of Clinical Oncology conference – a sigh of relief!

Simultaneously, I visited NYC specialists and signed consent for the exact type of clinical trial that Dr. Force highlighted in his comprehensive consult, cementing my decision. 

What a great service to be able to share with cancer patients that reach out via my blog seeking advice but limited in resources due to geographic location, we can rest assured knowing that an expert second opinion by Smartbridge Health is just a phone call away!

Carole Sanek

How many times have you been given news that brought you to your knees and you wanted to cry out “Why me”?

24 years ago this November at 430P I received a phone call that did just that.  I was in a daze because I had just heard the words “you have breast cancer”, and after that I heard nothing else.

I had to go through an entire weekend with no other information.  There was no computer to search in our house.  All I could do was go to the library and borrow books, but again this was not an answer because I did not have a clue what would happen to me next – I was in the dark.

Worse yet I had been an Oncology RN at a time when patients came into the hospital for hospice care and in my mind’s eye all I could see were the patients I had cared for until they passed.

Fast forward 24 years, so much has changed and is continuing to change.  We have access to answers now.  In many cases we know people who have walked through the pink fires of breast cancer. We see celebrities with a breast cancer diagnosis, we listen to them on the news shows, we have walked in the walks, and we have worn the pink ribbon.  We thrive.

Information is available to us in so many ways. However, I, and others, have found too much information can be confusing and overwhelming and our heads hurt, our brains are on overload and we still find ourselves without definitive answers.

In June of this year I found myself looking for answers again and I searched the Internet for hours.  I had been told a small suspicious lesion had been detected in 3D Mammography and I needed a biopsy.  This would be my 5th biopsy and each one comes with the same fears I had 24 years ago.

Several weeks later SmartBridge Health reached out to me from my blog which is about surviving and thriving in life.  The timing could not have been better because I had questions, I wanted and needed answers and those answers came to me through a telephone consultation with Jeremy Force, DO of Duke University. 

Dr. Force and I talked about biopsies.  We discussed treatments for a second cancer in a radiated breast.  We discussed mastectomy options over continuing to have biopsies over and over again.  We discussed the type of cancer I had 24 years ago.   I got help from Dr. Force and SmartBridge Health.  I received answers.  I know my path now. 

Over the years I have worked with top physicians in top hospitals and I have worked in rural settings where the best answers were hundreds of miles away.  I have also worked outside the US in a country where we would bus women into the capital city to receive care. I understand the importance of having choices presented to us in the form of educated second opinions.

SmartBridge Health is the bridge over the gap of your unanswered questions.  I am extremely grateful to them for helping me put my confusion to rest.

We cannot thank SmartBridge Health enough!  We contacted SmartBridge to request a second opinion about my father’s cancer and treatment as he battles stage IV esophageal cancer.  We were able to do this from the comfort of our home, online, and in a safe and confidential way.  The whole process was extremely fast.  It only took a few days for us to receive their insightful and comprehensive report.

The SmartBridge oncologist was personable and professional and performed a very thorough review and summary of my father’s entire oncologic care (including ER visits, weekly test results, medical notes, and treatment).  It was very helpful to review the personalized educational component of my father’s type of cancer and cancer care concepts.  The SmartBridge oncologist provided his impression and recommendations.  He agreed with my father’s current treatment plan, and explained in detail WHY he came to these conclusions (that was very important for us).  Also, he explained my father’s options moving forward, including standard of care treatments and clinical trials near us, which provided us with a lot of hope. 

It has been a blessing for us to receive confirmation from a world-class oncologist that my father’s treatment is the right option.  We will definitely continue consulting with SmartBridge through this difficult battle against cancer, and highly recommend SmartBridge Health for your second opinion needs!

— S.H. (USA)

It was taking me weeks to reach my oncologist, and I needed an immediate answer to a pressing issue. Thanks to SmartBridge Health, I was able to speak to a top hematologist-oncologist at the Duke Cancer Institute and learn everything there is to know on the subject.
— Anonymous (Netherlands)