Category: From the Desk of

From the Desk of is a POV written by Cancer Care’s staff, volunteers, donors, and board members.

Cancer During COVID-19

Cancer during Covid-19

From the Desk of…

Erinn Anderson, LMSW

Cancer Care Services’ Clinic Social Worker

A Story of Cancer During Covid-19

My mom, who is also one of my best friends, a phenomenal grandmother to my children, and caregiver to her own 95-year-old mother was diagnosed with cancer in December 2019.  She had successful surgery in January and was encouraged to take chemo for long-term protection from recurrent cancer.

Her first chemo was a little bumpy, but we got through it. I had a plan for her to “do better” the next chemo, even though I didn’t verbally share that plan with her. I planned to provide all the cooked meals, housework, etc. so my mom could focus on recovering and return to “normal” as soon as possible.

She recently had chemo on a Tuesday, and she felt increasingly bad all the way up to Sunday night, despite my “plan” that was in action. Sunday night, she called me because her symptoms were becoming unbearable. We called her oncologist that same night, who advised she push a large amount of fluids because her symptoms sounded like significant dehydration.

Unfortunately, the next morning the symptoms (fast pulse, really low blood pressure, chest and arm pain) continued so we saw her oncologist who sent us across the street to the hospital emergency room. I drove my mom to the ER, dropped her at the curb, and proceeded to park the car. When I went to join her, I literally wasn’t allowed to go past the reception desk at the ER! The lobby had been converted to a COVID-19 triage area, there was a security guard stationed at the entrance, and a nurse shook her head in apology.

My mom and I looked at each other in disbelief. She gathered a few belongings and headed down the hall alone. I walked back to the parking lot and cried, my mind racing with all the “what ifs.” She was in the emergency department all day having multiple tests done. None of the staff could provide updates over the phone due to HIPAA, but one finally told my mother to call us on her cell phone which wasn’t receiving the signal from outside calls.

Ultimately, my mom was admitted to the hospital from Monday to Wednesday with NO VISITORS of any kind. Thankfully she was lucid, awake, and capable of advocating for herself – because she was alone the entire time. All of the updates on her test results and her status came from phone calls she made to me. Her doctor graciously took my mom an overnight bag with clothes, a phone charger, and some snacks we sent.

And we talked on the phone. A lot. She spoke about getting herself out of bed to get snacks and water, a task caregivers eagerly jump up to do. She spoke to her cardiologist and every other specialist that visited with her alone, and miraculously remembered the important points of the conversations.

I feel so awful for all of the patients and caregivers who didn’t have the advantages we did. As my husband said, this virus is getting into all the nooks and crannies.

Tell us how COVID-19 is impacting you or someone you love who has cancer by clicking on this link: Share Your Cancer During Covid-19 Story

From the Desk of Tamika Chambers

Financial Advocates such as Tamika Chambers go over medical bills and insurance to help clients.

From the Desk of…

Tamika Chambers

Cancer Care Services’ Financial Advocate

Human error happens all the time. We know that. But it can seem to occur frequently within the context of medical billing and coding, and when it does, knowing the appropriate questions to ask insurance providers is key. Just consider this example from a few months ago, when a local cancer survivor became the first client to utilize Cancer Care Services’ new Financial Navigation program.

Like many others, this client’s medical expenses had piled up quickly, creating too much of a burden to juggle single-handedly. We sat down together and, after some work, devised a comprehensive path to get them over the top and on the other side of this mountain of financial stress. Together, we labored through more than 200 medical claims. Among them, we identified 67 denied claims that we thought warranted a closer look.

Over the course of two weeks and countless calls to insurance representatives, we worked to understand the client’s insurance company’s Explanation of Benefits statements. I asked why each claim was processed in the manner it was, and I shared the answers with the client, to give them a clearer understanding of their insurance coverage.

During this extensive evaluation period, we discovered one $1,000 claim that had been denied as “not medically necessary”.  But in fact, an identical claim had been processed – and paid – weeks later by the same insurance company. Investigation into the initial, denied claim revealed that it had simply been coded incorrectly and was, after all, a covered benefit under the client’s policy. The claim was reprocessed and the client’s bill was adjusted accordingly.

In addition to reviewing current insurance claims, the financial navigation process dealt with older medical debt that had already been sent to collections, too. Debt validation letters were sent (to verify the details of what is owed) and, as a variety of disputed debts were resolved, the client’s FICO score improved. What’s more: two medical debts tallying greater than $800 were wiped clean!

Currently, work continues to reduce their residual debt, creating the opportunity for them to look toward and begin the next phase of our plan: saving for the future. This is a huge victory for our client! 

An improved credit score, deletion of two medical debts, and getting a claim reprocessed by her insurance carrier represent so much more than an umbrella, giving them shelter from the downpour of financial toxicity, it’s more like the sun has come out on a brighter day. Together, we weathered the storm.

From the Desk of Annie Presley

Annie Presley - Cancer Care Services' Adult Counselor

From the Desk of…

Annie Presley, LCSW, OSW-C

Cancer Care Services’ Adult Counselor and a Cancer Survivor

How do I begin to describe what Cancer Care Services means to me? Please allow me to start from the beginning.  My journey with Cancer Care started when I was a Master of Social Work Intern, 15 years ago. After graduating and obtaining my Master’s level license, I was offered a position.

I was thrilled to begin working with cancer patients, survivors, and their families as a cancer navigator – especially because I was working in a field very close to my heart. Not only did I have a brother who died from esophageal cancer in 1999, but I had battled breast cancer just two years prior to being hired at Cancer Care Services.

Then, during my first two months at Cancer Care, I started experiencing physical issues that were troubling. I went to my oncologist, and tests revealed Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was hospitalized and began chemo right away. My supervisor kindly advocated for me to remain employed at Cancer Care Services, and even hired a social worker on a temporary basis to hold my position while I received treatment.

As someone who has experienced multiple cancer diagnoses, and who is now a survivor, I know all too well the financial burdens and family stressors that cancer causes. Despite cancer, I was able to continue my education and am now the full-time counselor for Cancer Care! Working here has been a calling since the beginning.

I have been blessed to know so many wonderful clients and friends throughout my 15-year career. I am proud to work for an agency that has been a part of Fort Worth for 73 years, and I know Cancer Care Services will continue this awesome work in Tarrant County for many years to come.

Yarn Heals

Knitted socks by JuJu Knits

From the Desk of…

Julie Hatch Fairley

Cancer Care Services’ Donor & Founder of JuJu Knits

 

My 54-year-old seemingly healthy mom who never smoked a day in her life died of cancer of undiagnosed origin in only 18 weeks. I was only 30 years old, and I was broken.

Mom used to say “Pick yourself up by your bra straps, JulieSue.”

So I did, and I tried to move on.

I bought a house.

I advanced my career.

Over time, life got better, and I was living the dream once again.

So why did my heart feel so very heavy?

A counselor soon asked – “What did I use to do as a child that brought me joy?”

The answer was easy – “Dig in the dirt and play with yarn.”

On the spot, I received a written “prescription” to garden or knit one hour a day. I took my homework seriously and jumped in with both feet with a lofty goal to immediately make socks. Now for knitters, that’s not necessarily a starter project – hence the pointy toes pictured here.

Knitted socks by Julie
Knitted socks by Julie

I began to knit … and knit … and knit … and slowly I began to heal.

After miles and miles of yarn, my soul began to breathe.

Today, I am fortunate to be able to share the healing power of yarn with others.

In January, we began “Healing Hands” at Cancer Care Services – a monthly meet-up where cancer patients, clients, and caregivers can join me & other fiber friends for fellowship (and free instruction as needed) over yarn. Our group has varied in size each month, but one thing remains constant: when picking up yarn, people put down their phones … and their guard.

Patients set aside their treatment side effects.

Survivors feel hopeful.

Caregivers slowly unwind.

We all begin to think of something other than cancer for a few sacred hours.

It is now my honor to welcome this community to JuJu Knits, a new, local yarn store located at 552 Lipscomb, just a few blocks northeast of Cancer Care Services’ location on Henderson near Pennsylvania.

Every Wednesday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. JuJu Knits hosts a fiber fellowship. While the first Wednesday of each month is designated especially for Cancer Care clients and their friends or family, any Cancer Care client is always welcome to join me for fiber fun. We keep at the ready an ongoing stash of donated yarn, needles, hooks, and other supplies for those who wish to learn knitting or crochet but may not have the materials to get started.

The binding community of JuJu Knits is also raising funds for the Cancer Care Services Holiday Gas Card Drive through the sale of handmade ornaments & our yarn winding station.

I believe down to the toes of my pointy socks that yarn really can help one heal.

Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to share my love of yarn with Cancer Care.

With peace, love & yarn,

JuJu

www.jujuknitsfw.com

817.854.YARN

#bindingcommunity

#fiberfriends

#yarnheals

Cancer is a Thief

Firefighters and Cancer

From the Desk of…

Cameron Brown

Cancer Care Services’ Board Member, Volunteer, & Donor

A Story of Firefighters and Cancer

Cancer is a thief. It sneaks up on us and steals our loved ones, friends, and coworkers. For firefighters, it robs us of our dignity, strength, identity, careers, and lives. The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) says that cancer is now the leading cause of death among firefighters.

Firefighters are typically mentally, emotionally, and physically strong. They are often identified as tactical athletes whose profession demands stamina, ruggedness, and grit. So what happens when one is diagnosed with cancer? The “C” word is a direct blow to one’s ego and sense of control. Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness come flooding into one’s life. The roles shift from first responder, primary provider, and caregiver to the one needing help.

One retired firefighter recently told me that he was so traumatized by his cancer diagnosis and treatment regimen that he feels like he has post-traumatic stress disorder. Before diagnosis, he worked at a very busy fire station, was confident in his competence, and took great pride in his work. He described the firefighters at his station as “family” because together they prepared and ate meals, worked out, and responded to emergency medical calls and fires.

When he was diagnosed, he was embarrassed and did not want to tell anyone. He feared being perceived as weak, vulnerable, and unable to perform his job. Consequently, he suffered in silence, isolated himself while this disease robbed him of his relationships, health, confidence, and career.

He described many losses in his life such as loss of physical ability to do his job, loss of relationship with his fellow firefighters, and loss of identity as a rescuer. He identifies himself as someone who was born to do this job and this is the only profession he ever wanted to do. During and after treatment, he felt like a “has been” because physically he could no longer fight fires.

Ironically, fighting fires (the thing he loved to do) is probably the culprit for his cancer due to exposure to the products of combustion. (Firefighters have a greater risk of being diagnosed with cancer and an even greater risk of dying from the disease compared to the general populations of the US, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH.)

The late Stuart Scott (ESPN sportscaster and often-quoted recipient of the Jimmy V Award at the 2014 ESPY Awards) said, “You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.”

Like many, this firefighter openly questioned why he got cancer: he ate a healthy diet, worked out, was kind, and was always willing to help others. His course of therapy included many months of surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. He described living in a lonely world void of companionship.

For a while, he lost his purpose in life because he was no longer a physically fit firefighter. His drive to help others was significantly diminished and although he had many family members, friends, and co-workers willing to help, he was unable to accept support. The thoughts about his cancer and the end of his firefighting career became all-consuming. Fortunately, a turning point came.

The turning point for him was the day when he was no longer embarrassed to ask for help. He realized his life was spinning out of control and he sought counseling.

Because of the nature of the work: providing help in times of crisis, the fire service is a sub-culture with a unique perspective and unfamiliar needs. I am proud that Cancer Care Services has chosen to partner with local fire departments to help firefighters and their families navigate the complex system of care called into action after diagnosis.

As part of the Fort Worth Firefighters Cancer Focus Group (FWFF), Cancer Care has helped coordinate a symposium planned for September 6, 2019. Understanding that the fire service is a unique community that wants to take care of itself so it can care for others, the symposium will bring community resources together to educate members of the fire service family on the latest developments in prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment.

Further, Cancer Care Services provides professional counseling and cancer case management to firefighters and their families. It is my hope, and Cancer Care’s, that one day soon Cancer Care’s professional team will include a Cancer Navigator specializing in helping first responders and their families answer a different type of emergency call.

Today, the retired firefighter I described earlier is a courageous cancer warrior and survivor. For him, what matters is not what he lost but what he has gained. Firefighters – like so many going through cancer treatment – are brave and resilient, often because of support and insight gained from organizations like Cancer Care Services.

Cancer Care Services empowers clients to regain their dignity, sense of identity, and control. When they feel supported, cancer can’t define nor steal an individual’s strength of character. Cancer may be a thief but it cannot “cripple love, shatter hope . . . [or] steal eternal life.”

From the Desk of Reception Volunteers

Reception Volunteers

From the Desk of…

Cancer Care Service’s Reception Volunteers

There’s no way to know exactly what brings a person to our door before they arrive. But there is one way to let anyone struggling with cancer know they’ve come to a place where they will be welcomed and respected, and that is to greet them with a smile.

Without necessarily instructing them to do so, the many volunteers who staff our reception desk throughout the week each have developed this same standard procedure – and while it may seem common sense, the satisfaction they derive from the simplest of gestures is immense.


“In the world we live in, too many people are plugged into their phone, tablet, and themselves. Less and less are people plugged into others and what is going on around them. When clients come in I always greet them with a smile and make a personal comment to them. I try to make them feel special and important when they walk in the door at Cancer Care Services.”

“I was in the same boat in 2013-14, going through cancer myself, and can relate to much of what the clients I see coming in are dealing with. You never know when just a simple thing like that can brighten someone’s otherwise dark day. Sometimes people just need someone to take the time to look up, see them, and listen for a minute.” – Nancy


Or, when the phone rings, “I am the first voice that a client will hear when they finally have time to pick up the phone and call. I want to make sure that I am as helpful and happy for them, to make their experience at Cancer Care Services as positive as possible from the very first contact.” – Jackie


These volunteers don’t take anything for granted. Some even tailor their wardrobe to suit the occasion, “I try to present a cheerful welcome as people come in the door because I know from experience that sometimes it can be little things like bright colors (rather than medical scrubs) that can add up to make a big difference in someone’s otherwise difficult day.” – Gena


Of course, Cancer Care clients come in all ages, ethnicities, and genders – from many different backgrounds but all with cancer in common. Just like our clients, our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Many are cancer survivors or caregivers; others are former healthcare professionals. Not all of them, however, understood the breadth and depth of what Cancer Care Services makes available to our community until they started spending time in the building.

“Cancer Care Services provides such a variety of support – for all. Cancer Care fills in some of the gaps that are lacking in our healthcare system.” – Marilyn


“I learned that the organization supports caregivers and survivors as well as patients. I don’t think caregivers always know that they need support too so the fact that Cancer Care Services works to make people aware of their programs is so important.”

“I was really touched to learn how Cancer Care supports children who are dealing with cancer in their lives with play therapy and other events specifically geared toward children and their family units.” – Gena


“Cancer can strike anyone, in any walk of life, at any time in their life. I have learned that once you “beat” cancer, there are still so many mental, physical, and financial challenges that need to be dealt with for many years after. I am so grateful to be able to share the knowledge that Cancer Care exists and is here to help people of all types.” – Jackie


“As a volunteer, I have learned a lot more about how Cancer Care Services works – more than I knew when I was working as an RN Case Manager making referrals for my patients. I wish more local Case Managers and Social Workers could spend just a few hours in the Cancer Care building to better understand how the agency can help lighten the load for many; it really is an oasis in the midst of dysfunction in the healthcare system.” – Marilyn


In some instances, laughter may be the best medicine, but around the offices of Cancer Care Services, a smile is a powerful tool we use on a daily basis. It’s part of our culture because it serves as an outward expression of hope, comfort, and connection between human beings finding their way.

“I love helping connect clients to resources they need through our social work team, but I also really love my one on one time with them at the desk, too. I was lucky one day to have a set of donated Texas Rangers baseball tickets to give to a family for free; they were so surprised and cried tears of happiness at the opportunity to spend some time away from doctors and simply focus on being a family and having fun. I still smile when I think about it.” – Jocelyn


If you would like to become one of our reception volunteers, fill out our online volunteer form today to get started.

We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.
– Mother Teresa

From the Desk of Megan Clifton

Megan Clifton - Client Connection Manager and Survivorship Navigator

From the Desk of…

Megan Clifton

Cancer Care Services’ Client Connection Manager, Survivorship Navigator and a Cancer Survivor

When you are a small-town coach’s kid, well, you are viewed just a little bit differently. Sometimes in a good light, but if the team’s not having a winning football season, you may be seen in a not-so-good light! This is how I grew up: with the small-town spotlight always on my family, so when my family got THAT call from the doctor… not only did our lives change forever, but the spotlight was there again, too. But this time in a much different form.

When I was just 13 years old, I was diagnosed with a rare form of pediatric cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma. When the doctors “caught it”, the odds were stacked against me. The tumor was big, and time was of the essence. Diagnosis on a Friday, in the operating room on a Monday. It was scary. It was emotional. It was real.

Once the news spread, in my tiny hometown of Comanche, Texas, the LOVE poured in. That same spotlight that once shined on my dad’s wins and losses, now shined on his 13-year-old daughter. It felt like every inch of Texas was praying for me, and it was so overwhelmingly amazing!

I’ll never forget my first thoughts when my parents and I received that dreaded phone call that no one wants to hear. When my parents sat me down to say, “the tumor is malignant”, I jumped up from my seat and ran outside to the backyard. My dad, trailing behind me, scooped me up in his arms and said it’s going to be ok, and we are going to get through this. My response to that took him by surprise.

I looked up at my dad and asked, “Does this mean I won’t get to run track this season?” You see, when you are 13, you aren’t thinking about life or death. You’re simply thinking about how this is going to affect your social life. (We’re talking about the oh-so-awkward, preteen/teenage years, after all.)

I really needed to know at that moment if my track season was coming to an end. Needless to say, my parents had other, bigger concerns. Soon, we would be meeting with the oncologist. My amazing parents dealt with the hard stuff, the tough questions like what is chemo going to do to her body, or what was the percentage of me actually making it through the next 10 months.

Meanwhile, I remember being scared of what my friends were going to think. No, really. The first thing I asked my doctor was, “Am I going to lose my hair?“ I was absolutely terrified that I was going to be “that” kid in eighth grade – the weird, bald-headed kid. It was nearly impossible for me to imagine anything worse than that.

Chemotherapy was hard. Oh, so very hard. Hair loss, nausea, weight gain from steroids – my whole appearance changed in the blink of an eye. I was sick, all the time. In the beginning, my chemo treatments were outpatient, so I would always get to come home afterward. However, this was also hard because my low blood counts meant my friends weren’t allowed to visit; my very weak body would not be able to fight off the infection.

I was a sad teenager, a lot. I felt isolated and could not figure out why this was happening to me.  Again, thank goodness for my amazing parents and, add to that, two amazing big sisters. And a town that was wrapping me up in prayers, good thoughts, and hugs – even though from a distance.

After six months of chemo, my oncologist did another biopsy. Unfortunately, we found that the chemotherapy was not working, and the cancer cells were about to start spreading  At this point, my doctors had to get aggressive with my treatment. This meant much stronger chemo and dreaded radiation. Trying to explain this to my friends was no easy task.  I didn’t understand it any better than they did. And, all I could think about was I am about to start High School bald-headed and pale.  It was the worst. I cried a lot. Thank goodness for prayer and my momma!

It was time to start radiation. I have never been so scared in my entire life! I was about to have radiation beads implanted into my body, and I would have to lay flat on my back for a week straight, not being able to move, with tubes and machines attached to my body as well. No one was allowed in my room for more than a short period of time, and they had to stand behind a shield in order to see me. An experience like that is something you can never forget, no matter how old you are when you experience it, 13 or 30 or any age.

My oncology nurses had to have some very serious conversations with me about how this radiation was going to affect my body in the future. Conversations about my body, which at 14 now was already changing because of puberty and adolescence, changing even more because of radiation and cancer, made me so confused about life. I will say everyone, and I mean everyone, on my medical team was so kind, caring, thoughtful, mindful, and, encouraging, and would do whatever they could to try and put a smile on my face.

Following my week-long radiation treatment, I began a six-month-long chemo regimen. For this round, instead of coming home, I would have to stay in the hospital for days at a time while my chemo slow-dripped. Again, “sick as a dog” was an understatement. I thought those 6 months were never going to end.

I began my freshman year of high school bald, rail-thin, sick, and uncomfortable. But I wasn’t the only one in my small town with an unexpected new look. I started high school the same way all the freshman boys did – because they shaved their heads! All 30 of them! Yep, the boys of my class, who were probably pretty nervous about starting high school too, shaved their heads to support me. Their sweet gesture made entering those double doors that day a little less frightening.

Eventually, the very long six months of chemo came to an end, and one, final biopsy concluded that I was cancer-free. That first year of being a high schooler, I felt it all: happy, sad, scared, and anxious, all while trying to navigate cancer as an adolescent. Through it all, the support that my family and I received… To this day, I cannot talk about it without getting teary-eyed. It meant so much to my survival. From family and friends to people I didn’t even know who were praying for me, the love and support I received were unconditional. This also came in the form of so many support services and nonprofits.

It is because of all the support I received that I have chosen to work in a field where I can give back some of what I’ve been given. It is my goal to help, support, and reach out to every cancer patient that comes across my path! I live to tell my story because – at any age – life isn’t always beautiful, but it is a beautiful ride!

From the Desk of a Social Worker

Social Worker taking notes

From the Desk of…

a Cancer Care Services’ Social Worker

A day in the life of a social worker at Cancer Care Services is filled with many different roles and responsibilities. No two days are exactly alike, but each day we are focused on providing care and support to the people we are here to serve. While our team of clinic-based social workers operates within the parameters of a specific, off-site clinic setting, the social workers in our building on S Henderson Street serve a broad spectrum of individuals from our community who have been affected by cancer.

Our community social workers typically spend the first few moments in the building preparing for the day. Everyone has their own process, but in addition to tending to basic administrative chores, this time is meant to put the social worker in a healthy state of mind to connect with clients. Sometimes social workers even jam out to action movie soundtracks, but those are a rare breed.

Prep time serves another practical purpose: we don’t begin reaching out to clients until after 9:00 AM, in order to give patients sufficient time to wake and prepare for whatever their day may hold. These calls continue conversations about previously identified needs or concerns; we want clients to feel they are kept current, and not like they are having to wait on responses to questions. After every call is completed on behalf of the patient, the social worker documents the exchange with a note to the client’s file. Detailed documentation is an essential element of professional social work.

Typically, the social worker will then move on to Intake phone calls. This is the first step in bringing a client on board to receive services from our agency. Many routine questions are asked in order to assess the client’s physical, mental, and even financial condition and begin to formulate a care plan for them. Not surprisingly, many notes are added to the file. Altogether, this process takes roughly an hour for each new client.

Once Intake is completed, then the social worker schedules a time to meet the new client in person, preferably, to discuss in more detail the needs of the client as well as those of his or her entire household. At Cancer Care Services, the cancer patient is not the only type of client. The husband, wife, child, parent, and any caregiver – can all be clients.

The social worker will spend time throughout their day researching and attempting to connect these people with the resources they need – whether it’s financial help, counseling, food assistance, proper treatment, prescription medications, housing, car repairs, social connections, medical supplies, nutrition supplements, burial assistance, and sometimes even mattresses. Basically, anything that is a concern or need of the cancer patient’s household becomes a priority of the social worker.

The social worker will also spend time throughout the day receiving phone calls from dietitians, nurses, and other medical staff. These medical professionals are close with their cancer patients and are a key link in the chain of caring for and providing assistance to our clients. Each one of these professionals works within the guidelines of the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), which keeps patient information confidential.

Social workers are constantly sending and receiving order forms to provide medical assistance for the patient in these cases. For instance, if a patient needs colostomy supplies, then a nurse will send over an order form, and the social worker then searches online for the specific supplies and presents their selections to a supervisor for approval.

Cancer Care Services accepts any cancer patient no matter what phase of treatment – or survivorship – they are in. We know any help that can be provided goes a long way for our patients, and we are proud to play a vital part in that process.

If you need help, fill out our online form to get in contact with a Cancer Care team member.

Makeup and Memories

Chroma Services client

From the Desk of…

Michael Sturns and Meredith Villachica

 Chroma Services
www.chromaservicestexas.com

Being in the salon business allows us to talk with and get to know so many great people. Each person has a different story, different successes, and different challenges. Over time, many clients come to feel like old friends, people we’ve known to weather life’s ups and downs.

Oftentimes, we get the privilege of helping them look their best as they celebrate milestones, like holidays, graduations, or marriages, for instance. But sometimes, it’s the greater gift that we get to help them when they’re feeling down, as they come to the salon not always feeling like their best. So great is it that something as simple as a haircut or new makeup can make someone feel so special on the inside as well as the outside.

But you know it and we know it: fighting cancer can lead to days when you feel more than just down.

We don’t claim to be able to make everything better, but our amazing team of Hair Stylists and Makeup Artists do what we can to transform feelings of depression, lethargy, anxiety, and self-doubt into moments of beauty, confidence, and encouragement.

How do we do this? When a client walks through our doors, we see the person, not the patient, and we proceed to pamper them through a beautiful makeover inside our one-of-a-kind Mobile Salon. With love in our hearts, our service to each client is totally personalized and nothing is left out! We call this the “Chroma Experience”!

Every three months, we have the opportunity to provide MAKEUP & MEMORIES for Cancer Care Services’ clients. Just recently, as part of their very special Valentine’s Dinner (2/09/19). It was the fourth time we’ve come out to a Cancer Care event and each time we are touched by and grateful for the opportunity to interact with each person there. We leave always wanting to come back and do more – and we plan to.

We are 100% committed to our partnership with Cancer Care Services and we certainly share the mission of the agency, doing as much as we can to reduce the impact of cancer in our community, by coming together and changing lives, one moment at a time.

Our motivation to do this began almost a decade ago. It is the story of a particular client that our co-owner, Meredith Villachica-Hood, has serviced for many years, during which time, Meredith had witnessed her difficult battle with cancer. Although her strength and beauty continued to be remarkable, year after year, she continued to grow back and then lose her hair all over again, during multiple years of chemotherapy.

This inspired Meredith – and in turn, all of us at Chroma Services – to do whatever we could to turn the unfortunate circumstance of losing hair, due to cancer, into an agenda that any person battling or overcoming cancer may come through our doors and walk out with their head held high…we want to make sure each person sees themselves to be just as beautiful as we see them!

We work with hospitals, nurses, doctors, and caregivers. Our shared goal is to make the traumatic experience of hair loss due to cancer and treatment not one of despair, but something liberating – so that each courageous soul can walk down the street with their head held high!

A percentage of every service done at Chroma Services is donated quarterly to a Cancer Charity or Non-Profit Organization. Together, we will eliminate Cancer!

From the Desk of Jane Oderberg

Jane Oderberg

From the Desk of…

Jane Oderberg

Cancer Care Services’ Retired Program Director, Board Member, Volunteer, & Donor

As a long-time professional geriatric social worker in 2005, I attended a women’s networking meeting. While catching up with a friend, she shared the fact that an employee at Cancer Care Services was going to be out on medical leave, and she needed to hire a part-time social worker for the interim. I told her that I would be interested in applying, so long as I could do the work and still care for my granddaughters. Well…as they say (whoever “they” are!), the rest is history!!

I started as a 20-hour/week home visit social worker, which I enjoyed very much. I maintained a presence in the healthcare field and continued to attend many networking meetings. I was repeatedly surprised when asked what I was doing currently, and I answered “working part-time at Cancer Care”, how few people knew what Cancer Care Services was or that it even existed! I must admit that until I started working there, I didn’t know Cancer Care did either! But once I knew, boy, was I proud to spread the word.

When the social worker who was out on medical leave returned, we job-shared for several months. Then the CEO came to me and asked that I come to his office; my co-workers teased that I was being called to the “principal’s office” for some behavior issue (like speaking my mind!). Instead, he informed me that the program director had resigned and asked if I was interested in taking on the position full-time, with responsibility for all client programming, supervising the social work staff and interns, supporting the Board of Directors, and “other duties as assigned”!

It didn’t take long, really just a year, for my relationship with one of the finest and oldest non-profits in Fort Worth to take root and begin to grow. I loved my job of helping clients and families navigate the maze that is cancer and all the ramifications that go along with it. I could leave work knowing I made a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis.

The staff was wonderful…more like family, really. We supported each other in good times as well as bad. It was a pleasure going to work every day. I also learned from our clients how cancer impacted their lives and how much they appreciated all that Cancer Care did for them. I have never felt as fulfilled by my work as I did while at Cancer Care Services.

Then and ever since, I have made it my mission to educate as many people as possible about the work Cancer Care does, making sure people know how to refer clients to the programs.

In July 2016, I retired from my position – after more than eleven years. Who would have believed that my part-time gig would last so long? But my connection with Cancer Care Services wasn’t over; it simply changed. I became a speaker’s bureau volunteer, and I pledged financial support through the Legacy of Hope Giving Society.

From these new vantage points, I have enjoyed watching the growth of the organization as it works to meet the needs of more and more people in our community. It felt good to be contributing still to something so positive. Then I looked at it from another angle.

A few months ago I was asked if I would consider serving as a member of the Cancer Care Services’ Board of Directors. Thinking it would be interesting to now see the agency’s operations from the perspective of governance and strategy – informed by a deep understanding of our client’s perspective, I said yes. So in a few weeks’ time, I’ll begin my term of service, continuing to support my favorite organization as a volunteer… an advocate… a donor… and once upon a time a good while ago, as a part-time employee.

Each experience has shown me in different ways the same thing: the quality of care and commitment to service offered daily by this organization to its clients. I hope to continue to contribute to its impact for many more years to come.