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Joanne Nelan

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Joanne Nelan is an insurance professional who, in 2017, turned full-time Medical Mom when her son was born with a congenital heart defect and genetic syndrome.


A California native and graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, she enjoys the ongoing football rivalry between her alma mater and Stanford, her son’s home hospital.


It Takes Heart was thoughtfully written in Alabama, New Mexico, and California as she undertook multiple cross country moves with her aviation-obsessed husband and medically complex three-year-old.


This book serves as a lasting resource for the medically complex community as part of Joanne’s mission to support fellow medical moms.

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It Takes Heart: Lessons for the new Medical Mom

Now Available

Was your child born prematurely, diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, or long-term illness like cancer? You are not alone and It Takes Heart is here to show you that.


Raising a child that has additional medical needs can be overwhelming and might see you struggling to adapt to your new life of hospitalizations, insurance battles, and never-ending worry. It’s difficult. But it’s not impossible.


It Takes Heart is a compassionate guide that offers twelve straightforward lessons on how to confidently advocate for your child in a medical setting, utilize and gain access to support services available, and assuredly address your own emotional needs. It will help you navigate complex medical systems and processes and try to make sense of your new normal, whether your child has received a diagnosis yet or not.


Overall, it offers thoughtful advice on understanding health insurance and dealing with billing disputes, information about support services such as early intervention and Medicaid as well as powerful tips for speaking with doctors and organizing health information. Plus so much more.


Using in-depth knowledge and real-life know-how, taken from the author’s own lived experience of becoming the best medical mom she can be, this book will help you on your journey to becoming a staunch advocate as the primary medical caregiver.


You don’t just have to survive in your new Medical Mom assignment, you can thrive and It Takes Heart will illustrate how to make the most of this experience.

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Owen Nelan

Owen Nelan is the energetic three-year-old son of Joanne Nelan and Jeffrey Nelan.  He was born in October 2017 with a congenital heart defect and genetic syndrome (22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome).  So far he has championed two open-heart surgeries and multiple other procedures. Thanks to an incredible medical team, Owen is happy and healthy at home with his parents. 

You can follow his story on Facebook at Owen's Remarkable Heart.

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