By Kristina Houck
From MRI, CT scans and blood work results, to appointment reminders and handwritten notes, Carmel Valley resident Robin Rady quickly acquired a variety of paperwork after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011.
“I had papers in my car, papers in my kitchen, papers in my office, papers everywhere, and I saw how quickly this could get out of hand,” said Rady, who was diagnosed and treated at the Scripps Polster Breast Care Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. “I created a medical records binder for myself as a way to take control of my disorganized self and bring some order to this already stressful time.”
Impressed with the organized binder Rady brought to every appointment, one of her doctors asked her to share her binder at a Scripps event. This prompted her to begin assembling and donating binders for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.
“I created this binder as a way of giving back and, hopefully, other patients like me will benefit from a little organizational help,” she said. “There may have been days when I couldn’t find my car keys, but ask me for my pathology reports, and I could give them to you in two seconds flat.”
With the assistance of Nurse Educator Beverly Mangerich, Rady organized a focus group with patients to learn what they wanted in their binders. Diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2012, Ashley Cadell was the first patient to receive the early edition of Rady’s binder.
“When you go through cancer, it’s truly the only part of this whole process that you really can have any control over,” said Cadell, who lives in La Jolla.
Then 38 years old, Cadell was also diagnosed and treated at the Scripps Polster Breast Care Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. She received the binder the day after she was diagnosed.
Cadell noted that her oncologist is so used to seeing her binder that during her last appointment, he immediately started writing answers to the questions she had written on the binder’s open page.
“You don’t think clearly when you’re diagnosed. It’s like a bomb has gone off in your head,” Cadell said. “This was the one area I just felt like I had control over. I’m able to keep everything in order and organized. It goes with me everywhere.”
Binders include a letter from Rady, a table of contents, divider tabs, medical history form, medication timeline, notepad and other essentials for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.
The binders also include a $10 gift card to Jamba Juice. After her bilateral mastectomy, hysterectomy, two breast reconstructions and two other hospitalizations, doctors informed Rady that protein was essential to the healing process. Because chicken, turkey and other high-protein foods were unappetizing to her, she frequently ordered smoothies with a protein boost.
In a year, Rady has donated about 200 binders to Scripps. Her two children and friends help Rady assemble the binders in her dining room.
“I just see the stress level go down tremendously when I take new patients through the binder, because it gives them an overview of their care,” Mangerich said.
Under the name metugo, which is shortened from medical records to go, Rady is now transitioning her service to a business. She hopes to expand and offer binders to even more patients.
“It’s like a portable office. Even in this digital age, people still want a place for their papers,” Rady said. “There just seems to be a want and a need.”
For more information about metugo, visit metugo.com.