I have the privilege of managing and being the sole provider in a unique program. I work in the Hereditary Cancer Program at Saint Louis University Cancer Center, where I provide risk assessment services and education about genetic testing to individuals and families in the region. It’s an amazing nursing role, and I can truly help people prevent cancer and manage their risk.
When appropriate genetic testing is ordered, all patients receive a letter with recommendations for cancer prevention and early-detection strategies. These are based on risk assessment and genetic testing results. We also ensure that patients and their families receive the proper emotional support throughout the process.
What makes our program unique is that patients are not billed for genetic counseling, education, and support. Because of this, all patients can access the care of a credentialed genetics professional. This allows them to obtain enough information to make good decisions about their genetic testing.
A patient’s financial situation or lack of insurance coverage is never a barrier to receiving education, counseling, and support. However, challenges still arise when a patient lacks the financial means and insurance coverage to pay for genetic testing. Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate enough to obtain funding for several years that aids patients and families who need genetic testing but lack the financial means. This funding makes the program a truly comprehensive one for our patients.
In May 2017, I received continued funding from the St. Louis Men’s Group Against Cancer. When I was at the awards lunch, I was once again awed by how this local organization makes an enormous difference in the cancer community. This group of men passionately wants to make a difference by fundraising and distributing that funding to a wide variety of agencies providing support services that make a difference in cancer care in our region.
The group funded music therapy programs, nutritional programs, research, camps for children with cancer or loved ones with cancer, bereavement programs, lodging for people needing treatment distant from their home, and screening programs. These men, through their generous funding, are truly making a gigantic difference in cancer care.
Many—if not all—of the programs the group funds would not exist without their generous contributions. The programs provide supportive services that decrease stress, problems, and suffering associated with a cancer diagnosis. The impact of supportive care can’t be underestimated.
What’s even more amazing is that I have referred patients and families to many of the other services this philanthropic group funds. In turn, I’ve received referrals from providers who also have received funding from this group. The work of the St. Louis Men’s Group Against Cancer has united our cancer community.
As nurses, we cannot take this generosity for granted. It’s important to learn about these resources and use them. It helps the agency fulfill their mission and connects patients and families with services that help to reduce the burdens associated with a diagnosis of cancer. It’s also important to help support the mission of the philanthropic groups. Let the community know about the good things they are doing. I know firsthand that funding can make a huge difference for patients and families, and I’m most grateful for that.