RICHFIELD — Being diagnosed with a serious illness is devastating, but not getting the care you need for a potentially curable or treatable illness is even worse. One woman is relying on technology to ease her pain.
Jackie Worthen, 60, loves playing games with her grandsons Ethan and RJ Rousseau. She cherishes every moment with them.
"It's the family and friends that pull you through,” she said.
Worthen was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic colon cancer in November 2016.
"It's been a hard ride,” she said. “Chemo wipes you out.”
Today, she relies on telehealth services to meet with her doctor. Instead of driving more than 100 miles each way, Worthen drives around the corner to Sevier Valley Hospital in Richfield to get the same treatment.
“I can go five miles down the road,” Worthen said.
From there Worthen video chats with her oncologist, Intermountain Healthcare’s Dr. Zachary Reese, who works from Cedar City Hospital.
Reese said telehealth helps the patient receive the attention they need.
“(It) improves the quality of their life and helps her to live longer, but doesn't require the effort that it takes to go back and forth, you know, hundreds of miles each way,” he said.
“Because we know that people when it comes to cancer care, the two most important things that they want is number one, quality care. But number two, they want to be able to get it as close to home as possible. And so telehealth really provides that opportunity for us,” Reese added.
Reese said technology allows him to do everything he needs to. "She can get labs done locally, she can have CAT scans or MRI is performed in Richfield, and I can still see those same images and pull them up on the computer, and we can review them together,” he said.
Telehealth saves Worthen on travel expenses and prevents her from having to sit in the car for extended periods of time feeling nauseous after her treatments.
"I had pillows and blankets. And half the time I was laid out in the back seat,” she described.
Worthen feels grateful to still receive the same level of care from her small hometown. “And I can see a good doctor from a big city,” she said.
Worthen is determined to live life to her fullest. She said she has people to live for. "I don't want this to be my end story … I plan on living,” she said.
Reese said he relies heavily on local nurses to examine the patient hands on for any concerns he can't address in person.