Since 2013, Ashley Dismuke has been a parent adviser on the Patient Family Advisory Council (PFAC) and a parent mentor. These two roles fall under the Patient Family-Centered Care (PFCC) Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Through the PFCC program, patient families volunteer to share their unique experiences to help provide excellence in health care.
Dismuke became part of the St. Jude family when her son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. While experiencing the whirlwind of emotions and information, Dismuke found comfort in relationships she made with other patient families.
“There’s a special and immediate bond that St. Jude parents have,” she said. “It enables you to cut through the fluff and get down to the real life issues to help your child while he’s battling cancer. I think that’s the same thing we do on the PFAC; we look at everything that St. Jude does from a parent’s view to see how well it’s working or if it can be improved.”
Dismuke says she loves getting to work on a project from the beginning—helping to create something for other families is a reward in itself. She provides parental feedback on suggested and current programs to help parents who are going through treatment with their child.
As a parent mentor, Dismuke provides support, encouragement and insight to help families navigate treatment. She draws on her own experiences to provide a special connection for those trying to acclimate to a new way of life in the hospital or at home.
“I have met the best, most brave parents who have battled right alongside our family with their child. I’ve learned how strong we can be together and how much we comfort each other,” Dismuke said.
Dismuke says she wants families to know a group of parents and staff are available to lean on when things get hard. These individuals can share tips and tricks to make life in the hospital easier and give comfort when needed. St. Jude has many resources for patient families.
Dismuke spends her free time with her active and outdoors-loving family. They love to run, play tennis and ski. When they are not having a friendly competition, Dismuke says they enjoy a good fire with s’mores.