When Lyndsey Griffin was born, the doctors quickly noticed there was something wrong. After a few tests, the results came back – it was a brain tumor.
“I had a rough start,” Lyndsey says. “I had to have two brain surgeries. I was only six weeks old when I had my first surgery and eight months old during my second surgery. The doctors were expecting the worst and they told my family that even if I survived I would likely be mentally delayed or blind. But what parent doesn’t want to give their child every possible chance? Somehow, everything worked out in the end.”
Growing up, Lyndsey recalls always being provided for. After all, she was the first child and the first girl. It wasn’t until later that she found out that life wasn’t as easy as her family made it look. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom while her father worked long hours as a jeweler and real estate agent.
“He worked really hard to make ends meet,” she says. “I had to go to follow-up appointments, MRI, etc. They received help from our church, they received state assistance and support from family. When I look back now, I realize how good they were at keeping this from me. They did not want me to worry.”
That always stuck with Lyndsey, who currently works as an oncology patient financial navigator. Understanding firsthand what it’s like for a family to go through financial struggles caused by health challenges, she knew this role would be the perfect fit for her.
“I don’t want people to have to choose between treatment — whether it’s for their spouse, child, or whoever is important to them — and having a life,” Lyndsey says. “I want them to be able to have treatment, thrive, and move on with their life without being financially bereft. I want them to be able to live their lives and not feel like they are a burden. I was fortunate enough to never feel like that.”
Lyndsey started working in dialysis with lower income patients in West Baltimore, where she learned about insurance information. Later, she transitioned to working with outpatients. When the role at Anne Arundel Medical Center opened, Lyndsey found an opportunity to bridge her social work background with her finite resource-gathering financial knowledge she learned in school and through years of work.
“When I talk to people about what I do and that I work in oncology, they say, ‘Wow, that must be so depressing,’” she says. “I find it strange that people think that because we’ve come so far with treatment, people are living for years and years. I see more successful stories than I see ‘depressing’ stories.”
“My patients make me want to wake up and come to work, even when I’m exhausted and don’t want to do anything else,” she says. “I can’t fix everything, but I know that I can make a difference.”
Pro tip: “Sometimes as health care professionals we feel so burdened with workload and rushed to get everything done, but we are all human. I think asking someone how they’re doing will just make all the difference to the patient. Take a second, human to human, and ask, ‘What can I do for you today? How are you feeling?’ They could have anything and everything going on. Just level with people.”
*Lyndsey Griffin received an AAMC Champion award for the month of July.