AUSTIN (KXAN) — Christina Bain is not taking this day for granted. She’s a cancer survivor who will need treatment for the rest of her life.
“Most people with stage 4 colorectal cancer do not live as long as I’ve lived,” said Bain, 35. “So, I’m really proud and fortunate that I’ve been able to be here as long as I have.”
Bain who was diagnosed in 2015 is now part of the CaLM, Cancer Life reiMagined, approach at Dell Medical School’s Livestrong Cancer Institutes at UT Health Austin.
“It builds a system of support around patients with cancer and then make sure we connect them to subspecialist cancer experts who can treat them with the most cutting edge cancer treatments that are available for their illness while we’re providing them support,” said Dr. Elizabeth Kvale, Director of Supportive Care & Survivorship at Livestrong Cancer Institutes.
The team is made up of experts all in one place, including oncologists, a dietitian, a genetic counselor, a psychiatrist, social workers, supportive care specialists, and wellness experts.
Right now, patients with cancers including stomach, ovarian and chronic leukemia’s are being treated. The program has about 150 patients and is expanding.
Dr. Kvale says insurance does cover the services offered.
“In a typical cancer treatment program, none of that support happens until the oncologist thinks to refer a patient for supportive care—until they think to engage a social worker with the patient,” said Kvale. “Often times that support comes in later than it should.”
Bain is not only a patient but also on the advisory board.
“I get chemo every two weeks and on the fifth day of every cycle this neck muscles seizes up,” said Bain. “Fixing that makes little difference in my cancer status, but makes a huge difference in my comfort and my ability to play with my daughter. When it really seizes up, I can’t even lift my arm up. I can’t pick her up. I can’t be present with her in the same way.”
Spokespersons for St. David’s HealthCare and Texas Oncology say they offer a multi-disciplinary approach to treating patients from diagnosis through survivorship, which includes a team that tackles everything from medical, emotional, and financial support.