We sat down with our Director of Patient Advocacy for insights into the mesothelioma treatment journey, tips from her personal and professional experience in health care, and how her team can help patients and their families.

Jenna Tozzi, Mesothelioma Hope’s Director of Patient Advocacy, is a multi-state registered nurse with more than 15 years of experience in rare cancers like mesothelioma.

In addition to her impressive professional accomplishments, Jenna leads with heartfelt compassion as an advocate, ally, and confidante to the patients and families she works with.

“Early in my career, I saw how important it was for a patient to be cared for holistically. Since then, I have been advocating for children and adults diagnosed with rare diseases.”

She puts her expertise and personal passion to work each day helping callers who need her care and support. Get to know Jenna as she answers five questions posed by mesothelioma patients like you.

1. What exactly is a Patient Advocate?

A Patient Advocate is someone who acts as an extra layer of ongoing support throughout your journey with mesothelioma.

We provide active listening, personalized medical information, emotional support connections, and financial resources to patients and their loved ones.

Patient Advocates help patients make informed decisions about their care, ensuring their goals and wishes are heard and respected.

With our team’s deep expertise in the medical field, we’ll walk with you through all aspects of your mesothelioma journey. We’re here to empower you to find the specialists you need, fully understand your options, and maximize those appointments to get the right care delivered on your terms.

Our goal as Patient Advocates is to arm everyone with the resources to overcome challenges related to a cancer diagnosis — including patients, family members, and loved ones. Every person we talk to has a different journey, so we tailor our services to meet the needs of our patients and families.

One way we can support you is by connecting you with a mesothelioma specialist through our Free Doctor Match service. Sign up now to get started.

2. How has your personal experience influenced your role?

As the daughter of an emergency room physician, I was fascinated by science and anatomy from a young age. My father would take me to work with him, and I would sit at the nurse’s station and ask questions — and then go home and read his medical textbooks and play with his stethoscope.

Later on, my interest in medicine turned into a personal experience when I was diagnosed with a rare disease as a teenager. I had to stop going to school and travel to various specialists for second opinions and treatment recommendations.

Despite my family’s professional medical experience, they found it difficult to navigate the diagnosis and adapt to a different kind of life.

“Following treatment, I was challenged with many long-term side effects. To effectively manage my own care as a young adult, I had to become my own best advocate. Understanding how daunting this can be has given me the drive to empower others to help overcome health care obstacles.”

My experiences have given me the ability to prepare other families for hurdles that may arise after being impacted by a mesothelioma diagnosis.

3. What does the word “hope” mean to you?

To me, hope is largely about feeling empowered to make your own decisions and fight for another day with the people and experiences that make life worth living.

As a mesothelioma nurse, my goal is to help inspire hope for patients going through this difficult time.

I try to do this in three main ways:

  1. Providing reassurance and encouragement to push through the difficult times
  2. Building resilience by educating and empowering patients
  3. Being present and offering a listening ear for someone going through their darkest moments

Health care can be confusing and complicated, but I find that when patients understand their diagnosis, treatment options, and ways to improve their quality of life, they feel more in control of their cancer journey.

4. What are some key considerations for each stage of the mesothelioma journey?

Everyone has a different cancer journey, and those facing unfavorable diagnoses experience the biggest challenges and hardships. That said, there are a few common phases of a mesothelioma journey.

The Newly Diagnosed

The biggest suggestion I would give at this point is to get educated on all things mesothelioma.

This includes:

  • Reviewing your pathology report
  • Asking about screening tests to inform your care
  • Learning your treatment options
  • Understanding symptom management
  • And more

Connecting with a mesothelioma cancer center with a multidisciplinary treatment team allows you access to resources like surgery and oncology expertise, pain management, palliative care, diet and nutrition support, chaplains, and more.

Facing a Cancer Recurrence

If your mesothelioma comes back (recurs) after treatment, know you have options — even if you feel like you don’t.

While there may be limited FDA-approved treatment options for mesothelioma recurrence, now would be the time to seek out a clinical trial and consultations with top mesothelioma researchers.

Navigating Survivorship

Palliative care is your best friend through this process. You may experience unwanted long-term side effects from treatment, but you can enhance your quality of life by taking charge of it.

Your mental and emotional health also matters. Consider starting a gratitude journal to help you cultivate a focus on positive experiences.

Read the inspiring stories of patients who are still thriving today and get tips for living with mesothelioma in our Free Survivors Guide.

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Families Grieving a Loved One

Many families will experience anticipatory grief after a mesothelioma diagnosis. That is normal, and you are not alone. By connecting with a Patient Advocate, you can access tools to help you cope with some of the challenges that may arise when you are preparing for a loved one as they transition to the end of life.

5. What advice would you give to someone who’s been diagnosed with mesothelioma?

You are in the driver’s seat. You must prepare for your appointments to get the most out of them and to make informed decisions on how to proceed with your life.

“Getting diagnosed with a rare cancer is life-changing. I want patients to know that they can take control of their journey with mesothelioma and that I will be there with them every step of the way.”

Resources — and the support of Patient Advocates like me and my team — are at your fingertips. I had to learn in my own life not to be afraid to ask questions and take advantage of these resources to overcome barriers to care.

I record my doctor’s appointments, prepare a list of questions before every appointment, and utilize my support system to help me make decisions.

I encourage anyone who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma (or loves someone who has) to do the same. Take back control wherever you can, and know that your life still belongs to you.

Connect With Nurse Jenna for Mesothelioma Support

If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, Jenna is here to help you.

She and her team of Patient Advocates can:

  • Listen to your story
  • Connect you with medical care
  • Help you make the most of your doctor’s appointments
  • Find support groups
  • And much more

It’s always free to speak with Jenna and the rest of our team. Call us at (866) 608-8933 or fill out our contact form to get support now.

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Laura WrightWritten by:

Lead Editor

Laura Wright is a journalist and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience. She attended college at the University of Florida, graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2008. Her writing has been featured in The Gainesville Sun and other regional publications throughout Florida.

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