Cancer Nutritional Program Supports Cancer Patients and Caregivers
The UTMB Cancer Center and Preventive Medicine Community Health office have been instrumental in the development and ongoing operation of the Cancer Nutrition Network of Texas (CNNT).
Funded by the Texas Cancer Council and supported by UTMB, CNNT provides cancer patients and their caregivers nutritional support and information that have scientific support. This information will help cancer patients, caregivers, family members and health care professionals obtain the best nutritional support during their cancer experience, especially in symptom control and nutrient replacement.
Nutritional needs and information were derived specifically from fourteen focus groups throughout Texas, comprised of patients in active treatment or those who were providing their care. This data served as the foundation for the state-wide, medically-trained Education and Science Councils to use in development of web site updates, patient education materials and monthly newsletters on nutrition.
Cancer Care "Passport" Program Serves Texans
An important tool for helping cancer patients keep all their pertinent care information in one, handy place is the "Cancer Care Passport," developed and made possible by the CNNT, with the support and guidance of staff in the UTMB Cancer Center and PMCH. Approximately passport-sized, the booklet provides room for patients to record appointments, medications, nutritional information, notes from health care providers and other crucial information related to their cancer journey.
The Cancer Care Passport was developed in response to a need expressed by cancer patients accessing information through CNNT. A similar, but much larger tool had been devised by a private foundation, but cancer patients found it to be too large, heavy and inconvenient for use.
A prototype was developed and presented to CNNT participants across the state, who submitted various changes and recommendations. Then in May 2006, the initial run of passports were printed and disseminated throughout Texas. Since then, three additional reprints have been warranted, bringing the total number of passports in use to more than 10,000. In early 2008, a Spanish version of the passport was printed and made available to the many non-English speaking cancer patients throughout Texas.
Community Outreach an Important Component in Cancer Education
Cancer screening programs are an integral part of educational programs provided by the UTMB and its Cancer Center. During 2006, alone, UTMB performed more than 16,000 breast and cervical screenings through its Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program. UTMB is also involved in skin cancer screenings to citizens throughout Galveston County. UTMB provides assistance to women requiring screening for breast cancer through these programs: Cancer Stop, D'Feet Breast Cancer, Inc., Breast and Cervical Control Program, Susan G. Komen Foundation grant and UTMB Indigent Care Fund. The Julie Rogers Foundation in Beaumont supports UTMB in providing screening mammograms for women who reside the Golden Triangle.
Health care professionals and support staff at the UTMB Cancer Center are also involved and have assumed leadership roles in several organizations and agencies that support cancer causes. Each spring, the UTMB Cancer Center assembles an impressive team to participate in a 12-hour continuous walk to fight cancer, the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. In 2007, UTMB's team took top honors in the event, raising more than $15,000 and numbering more than 55 members.
UTMB employees also take an active role in another high-profile event in the Galveston County community: "D'Feet Breast Cancer." This run/walk is also designed to raise funds and awareness about breast cancer, and proceeds from D'Feet directly benefit research and clinical programs to assist breast cancer victims.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation event each year also includes a team from the UTMB Cancer Center. Runners and walkers in this event are sponsored, and proceeds are contributed to causes related to the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
Cancer Center Reaches Out to Community's Children
Just in time for spring and summer, the UTMB Cancer Center used the popular Grand 1894 Opera House's Grand Kids Festival as an opportunity to teach area children the importance of being "sun safe."
More than 300 children of all ages, and some adults, too, created their own personalized sun visors at the UTMB Cancer Center booth. Beginning with multi-colored foam sun visors, Cancer Center guests could choose from flowers, letters, farm and zoo animals and a host of other foam designs to personalize their sun visor.
All the while, Cancer Center staff and volunteers used the creative time to also stress the need to apply sun screen, limit sun exposure and avoid sunburns during the upcoming hot and sunny months in our area. The Cancer Center also shared various informational brochures about sun exposure, skin cancer and other forms of cancer with the moms, dads and grandparents visiting the booth with their children and grandchildren.
Student volunteers from Ball High School's National Honor Society and Key Club helped staff the booth from 10 am to 5 pm during the festival. Cancer Center staff members said the idea to match older students with younger children proved very successful, and both groups seemed to have a lot of fun and enjoy each other's company.
Cancer Center staff and volunteers joined ten other UTMB departments under the university's "Healthy Fun Tent" exhibit at the festival. Other departments included Emergency Care Nurses, the UTMB Children's Hospital, the Center for Weight Management, the Office of Community Outreach and others.