Where Expertise and Passion Collide
By Jewel Connelly, Communications Specialist
Photos of Denise Hoffman
As a nurse for 25 years, Denise Hoffman has made a career of caring for others and drawing on her expertise to meet their needs. But her devotion has extended well beyond hospital doors when it comes to serving the limb loss and limb difference community. If you’ve been a part of the Amputee Coalition for any length of time, you may recognize Denise or have indirectly benefited from her service to the organization. After 31 years as an aboveknee amputee, Denise knows what it means to live well with limb loss and all her experiences have culminated in her newest project: The Dish with Denise. Creating a hub of information for the community and with the community, she seeks to bridge the resource gap and get information to those who would benefit.
When Denise was 12, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and went through limb salvage to save her leg. However, due to unforeseen complications, she ended up going through amputation as a college freshman. Denise went on to become a registered nurse at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis and even worked with some of the nurses and doctors who took care of her as an oncology patient. It wasn’t until her prosthetic manufacturer asked her to become a patient model that Denise learned more about the industry and began getting involved in the community.
“I couldn’t believe that in this day and age there’s so many great resources out there, but as a nurse I kept seeing that they still weren’t getting to the patients,” Denise shared. “It broke my heart, and that’s when I started getting involved in legislative advocacy with the Amputee Coalition and the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association in 2015.”
Before she knew it, Denise was volunteering in many areas with the Coalition, from Certified Peer Visitor to lead advocate to Scientific & Medical Advisory Committee member. As a SciMAC member since 2016, she has contributed to the creation of resources including “First Step,” “Hip Disarticulation/Hemipelvectomy Amputation: Beginning Your New Journey” and the “Sex and Intimacy” guide. In partnership with PROTEOR USA, Denise was given the green light to start The Dish with Denise in 2023 to serve as a resource for the community. The website serves as a deep dive into anything and everything amputee, and the first episode of the web series launched in April. “Their tagline is #HumanFirst, and they really show that by supporting me to be another avenue of resources for the limb loss and limb difference community,” she said about PROTEOR.
On the website, visitors can find a variety of patient resources and tools on subjects including how to communicate with your healthcare team and financial assistance programs. The web series is another way to digest information on lifestyle topics such as how to navigate the beach or a theme park, and how to submit an insurance claim, denial or appeal. The biggest priorities for Denise remain making sure the resources reach people in the community and answering commonly asked questions.
“I really want to get this information out to people,” Denise said. “I just want people to share it with others and, if their prosthetist or physical therapist wants to put it up in their offices, that would be amazing.” Denise also emphasizes collaboration and knowledge sharing on The Dish with Denise, encouraging viewers to add additional resources they know about to the comments on each episode.
More than just a passion project, The Dish with Denise is an informed opportunity to empower and educate the community. Over the past nine years Denise has been a patient advocate, and she is motivated by the desire to see people with limb loss and limb difference live the best lives possible. Her vibrant personality and childlike approach to life are immediately inviting as she approaches each episode with care. As she continues to populate more content, feel free to contact her if there is a subject you would like to learn more about.