How Patient Support Services Can Help Those Navigating Cancer

March 16, 2023

When navigating a cancer diagnosis, finding out you may need to travel for specialized treatment, such as proton therapy, can add an extra layer of stress. Whether it is finding a place to stay, way to commute to treatment, or group to connect with being away from home, any of these can be challenging to do while going through a difficult life transition.

Which is why Texas Center for Proton Therapy’s Patient Support Services team works directly with patients to ensure they are cared for in all aspects. Lauryn Lane, patient support administrator, shares what inspires her about working with cancer patients and how her role aims to bridge the gap between patients and any challenges they may face traveling to receive proton therapy.

What does your day-to-day role look like as patient support administrator at Texas Center for Proton Therapy?

My role changes every day based on the needs of our patients. I often joke that when I walk in the door, I never really know what my day will hold. Although I am not clinical, my main job is helping to remove any obstacles that might prevent patients from attending their proton therapy appointments. Whether that is helping out-of-town patients find housing, working with the Family and Medical Leave Act and disability claims, connecting patients with support groups and other emotional support resources, or even navigating how they will commute to treatments – I work directly with our patients to achieve these. As a patient support administrator, I recognize that I am meeting patients on some of the most emotional days of their life, so I always aim to meet their needs and walk through any challenges alongside them.

Did you always know you wanted to work with cancer patients, and what inspired you to work specifically with proton therapy patients?

I never planned to work in healthcare. I was referred to this role by a friend in the Texas Oncology network. What started as “just a job” very quickly became one of the most fulfilling, and inspiring roles I have ever had. Honestly, since joining the team, I have found that I love working in healthcare and supporting patients during this stage of their life. I could not picture myself being anywhere else. I had the privilege of starting at Texas Center for Proton Therapy before the doors even opened – when the construction crew was installing the final touches to the center. I have watched our physicians grow the practice to compassionately care for patients near and far.

What services does Texas Center for Proton Therapy provide for patients who live nearby and those who are traveling in from outside cities or states to receive proton therapy?

We are grateful to be connected with Texas Oncology and the practice’s resources. I also connect with local and national organizations to help patients find critical resources for any financial needs, social support, and education. For out-of-town patients, I work with hotels on fixed room rates and connect with nonprofits like the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge and Ronald McDonald House Charities. When patients need to relocate for proton therapy, my goal is to make their transition as seamless as I can, knowing they are far away from the comfort of home and are looking for a place to relax and recover between treatments.

How have you seen these services benefit and/or provide guidance to cancer patients and their families while navigating a cancer diagnosis?

One of the most encouraging things I have heard from patients has been how their experience receiving treatment went from being an overwhelming commitment to a quick and smooth process. I am constantly inspired by our patients when I see them encouraging one another as well as the support their caregivers and loved ones give them throughout treatment. I often notice prospective or current patients are not aware of the support services available, and I hope to be a bridge between the challenges they may experience and providing solutions.

What is your personal philosophy on patient support care? If you could tell prospective patients one thing about support services, what would it be?

Cancer affects people from all walks of life, who may be in the middle of big life plans or achieving dreams that had nothing to do with cancer. For me, patient support is about finding a way through, beyond, and forward for all stages of treatment. Our treatment rooms are named, “Strength, Courage, and Hope,” which I believe are key tools needed in the fight against cancer. These words are the reason our doctors, physicists, nurses, and care team do everything it takes to bring the best possible care to the people we serve. While I am supporting a patient through logistical and social support services, the rest of our team is working to treat the physical effects of their cancer type – as a center, our goal is to create hope for patients fighting cancer.