Former Cancer Patient Now Helping Others at UnityPoint Health Clinic

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- For many of us, a simple trip to the doctor can be scary, but a trip to the hospital for tests and scans can be downright terrifying.

A local man is trying to make that process a little easier and he's using his own experience. During his early adult life, Robert Sharitz found himself spending more time in the hospital than at his home.

“I had lost feeling in my left side. At first it was almost similar to like a stroke, but it was all related to the Hodgkin’s,” Sharitz said.

Diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin's Lymphoma and cardiomyopathy, Sharitz had a long treatment plan followed by a long rehab.

“Really bad ataxia. [My] arms [I] couldn't control them, so I had my sister. She would have to feed me. It was total help from there,” Sharitz said.

Now Sharitz is better, but still is spending every day at the hospital, this time by choice.

“Once I came here, truly, once I came here and started seeing our doctors and the front desk staff at other offices, they did the same as I did. They made me feel comfortable and I started thinking. I can do this,” Sharitz said.

At the front desk of the cardiology clinic at UnityPoint Health Des Moines, Sharitz works every day to be the friendly voice on the other side of the phone.

“I’m an advocate. I empathize with them. I am the patient experienced champion here,” Sharitz said. “I try to make sure that we all are. I bring the confidence of what the system here is.”

Sharitz said his history as a patient at UnityPoint Health really helps when someone is scheduling an unfamiliar test and needs some reassurance.


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