Cancer survivors share stories on Allegheny Health Network podcast |

Cancer survivors share stories on Allegheny Health Network podcast

Dillon Carr
Bonny Diver

Allegheny Health Network has launched a podcast aimed at sharing stories from area cancer survivors.

The weekly podcast “I Had Cancer” is a partnership between AHN and iHeart Radio that “aims to engage, educate and inspire cancer patients and survivors and their loved ones by telling the stories of some remarkable survivors,” according to an AHN news release.

Each episode features a conversation between the show’s host, Bonny Diver, and an AHN cancer survivor.

Diver is a breast cancer survivor, traffic reporter for iHeart Radio and founder of Hair Peace Charities — a nonprofit that offers financial support to those in need of wigs.

Diver, 62, of Avalon said, “I Had Cancer” is an important listen for anyone.

“We’ve had people call in wanting to share their stories,” she said. “Someone called us from Vancouver once. I think it’s healing for people to be able to tell their story so it’s good for everybody.”

As a journalist, Diver likes to include facts about certain cancers, what some symptoms look like and various pieces of information in hopes that listeners who might suspect they have cancer will get checked.

“It’s important for people to know they’re not alone. They’re not the only person in the world to have this (cancer),” she said.

Diver was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 when she was 46. Two years later and after robust treatment she founded Hair Peace Charities, which she said helps hundreds of women every year.

She hopes future episodes include doctors’ answers to listener questions related to cancer.

“It’s always a passion of mine when cancer is involved … and I want to do anything I can do to get people through it,” she said. “The empowered patient is always the patient who will do better. Because you feel powerless in that time.”

So far, “I Had Cancer” has been downloaded over 1,500 times and is slated to publish weekly podcasts through October. At that point, Diver said, the producers will evaluate with AHN on whether to continue.

Stephanie Waite, an AHN spokeswoman, said the podcast is the health network’s first and the health network is pleased the audience continues to grow each week.

The podcast comes as AHN plans to open up to 10 community cancer centers across the region as part of a partnership with Johns Hopkins Medicine, a health care system based in Baltimore. The health network’s parent company, Highmark Health, has said it will invest $300 million to build the cancer centers through 2020 in Western Pennsylvania.

“Cancer treatment can be a long and difficult process, and it’s important that our patients know that they are not alone in their struggle,” said Dr. David Parda, chair of AHN’s Cancer Institute. “We are grateful to our patients who are sharing their stories on the “I Had Cancer” podcast, and believe they will provide hope and inspiration to their fellow patients as they progress through their individual cancer journeys.”

The podcast is available to download on AHN’s website, Apple Podcast or on iHeart Radio’s mobile app.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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