October 19, 2010 at 9:34 am , by Lisa M. Gerry
Diem Brown captured America’s attention when she competed on MTV’s Real World, Road Rules Challenge soon after undergoing treatment for Stage II ovarian cancer. But while her bravery and bright personality made her beloved on MTV, she wasn’t always treated so kindly. It was while she was working as a broadcast journalist that she began to see the side effects of her chemotherapy, including hair loss and extreme weight loss. “I didn’t have any money, so I was wearing a $10 wig that I bought on Hollywood Boulevard,” Brown says, “And someone working on a red carpet told me that I was ‘physically offensive.’” It was then that Brown realized how a devastating illness can be made even worse without money. “I wanted a wig that looked real,” she said. “I didn’t want people looking at me and seeing a sick person. I didn’t want to look at me and see a sick person.”
When Brown’s friends began getting married and having children, she became familiar with gift registries—a way for a person to let their loved ones know exactly what they need or want. “My friends and family would say, ‘I feel so helpless—what can I do?’ I didn’t want to say, ‘Oh, give me money.’ But anytime you go to the hospital, it’s expensive. I got turned down twice for my chemo because I didn’t have the money.”
This became the impetus for Brown’s medical gift registry and social network, MedGift.com. Once patients register on the site, friends and family can donate directly to the hospital for medical procedures. They can post requests ranging from wigs or grocery gift cards to pet sitting or a ride to the hospital.
Brown says, “I felt like this was the reason I got sick—to come up with this idea. Creating a medical gift registry was my silver lining.” Visit MedGift.com for more information.