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Hope Coach, Health, Giving Back, Local Heroes, My Generation—AARP Skip to content

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Local Heroes


Hope Coach

A former patient provides hope and inspiration to people battling cancer.

Hope comes in many forms, but for patients undergoing cancer treatment at the University of Maryland Medical Center, one visible form of hope is Ann McNerny. As a breast cancer survivor, she knows all too well that the path to recovery is filled with roadblocks: chemo, doctor visits, losing your hair, prescriptions, overcoming insurance caps. With all these moving parts, it’s Ann’s job to guide patients through this complicated maze and make their difficult journey a little easier.
Her official title is patient navigator, but it’s obvious that the most important thing she does is give people strength and hope. “She had cancer and she survived it,” says Robert Meyers, one of Ann’s patients. “That makes the patients feel…if she can survive it so can I.”
Before working at the hospital, Ann was a high-powered insurance executive, but then cancer changed her life. She quit her job, went home to raise her kids and wrote a book entitled The Gift of Cancer. Ann says, “Had I not been diagnosed, I’d still be sitting on the 12th floor of the IBM building waiting for somebody to call me for lunch or seeing what new shoes I could buy or if I could get a better parking space…all that stuff kind of melts away and the real purpose of your life, at least for me, came through. That’s why I call the book The Gift…because it was for me.”
My Generation met up with this remarkable woman who is using her experience to help others through difficult times.

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