Meet the LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Texas Team

by

The LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center (LCNC) is the direct service arm of the LIVESTRONG Foundation’s mission: “To inspire and empower people affected by cancer”. Located on the East Side of Austin, Texas, the LCNC provides a range of free services, with assistance in both English and Spanish, for people diagnosed with cancer, their families, friends, loved ones and even health care professionals who work with them. Every Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, these are the friendly faces who work vigorously to serve not only those in Austin, but throughout the state of Texas. If you are in need of support in Austin, Texas or elsewhere in the US, please call our Navigation Services Team at 1-855-220-7777 or go online and fill out a request for information.

Athan Schindler, LMSW:
Texas Navigation Services Manager & Emotional Support Counselor, Texas Services

As the Texas Navigation Services Manager, Athan supports the Navigation Services team in the planning and coordination of LIVESTRONG’s Navigation Services program, with a specific focus on the coordination of services for people affected by cancer in Texas. As an Emotional Support Counselor, Athan also supports Texans affected by cancer that contact The Foundation looking for emotional support.

Q: What did you do before this?
A: “I’ve done a lot of things in my life. Most notably, I was an Airborne Ranger in the Army for 7 years, I started a one-of-a-kind program that helped people entering the justice system to change their lives and never enter the system again, and I was Public Health Educator.”

Q: What is your favorite part about working for the LCNC?
A: “That’s a tough question because there’s so much that I love about working here. However, I’d have to highlight the people in two parts – our clients and my coworkers. Every day I get to interact with amazingly special clients with varying circumstances and needs. Selfishly, it makes me feel good that I can be someone our clients can rely on. That’s why I also have to list my coworkers as what I love about working at the LCNC. Each person I work with is so committed to our clients and such a hard worker that it makes me wonder how we all ended up in the same place. I’ve worked in a lot of organizations and the LCNC is one of the most elite group of people that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Sure, we don’t always have the answers or know what to do, but we always put our clients first and we work tirelessly to serve their needs.”

Q: What does fighting cancer mean to you?
A: “Not everyone confronts cancer in the same way. Fighting cancer, to me, means taking the time to identify your own priorities, selecting a preferred future, and doing the best you can to continue on in the healthiest way possible.”

Q: What is one thing that you would like people to know about you?
A: “If people could only know one thing about me, I’d want them to know I care. I truly want the best for all people. I’m not perfect. I don’t always do everything right. But, I always care.”

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
A: “I really love quotes so this is another hard question. The first one that comes to mind is:
‘Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.’ ~ Calvin Coolidge”

Sarah Gomez:
Senior Navigator, Texas Services

Sarah is the initial point of contact for the face-to-face, online and phone intake process of all Texas constituents and serves as the primary referral source to programmatic services. She directs cancer survivors to the appropriate resources and explains the referral process and program services.

Q: Where are you from?
A: “Dominican Republic (Puerto Plata to be exact)”

Q: What did you do before this?
A: “I worked at The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.”

Q: How long have you worked at the LIVESTRONG Foundation?
A: “I’ve been here 3 ½ years.”

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Austin?
A: “Eat, so many yummy restaurants and food trailers.”

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
A: “‘The longer you wait for the future, the shorter it will be’ – Loesje or ‘Stop thinking of what could go wrong and start thinking of what could go right.’ – Unknown”

Amanda Esparza, LMSW:
Emotional Support Counselor, Texas Services

Amanda serves as the primary contact for emotional support services for Texans affected by cancer, including cancer survivors, their family and loved ones as well as health care professionals that contact the LCNC online, in-person or by phone.

Q: Where are you from?
A: “Buda, TX”

Q: Where did you go to school?
A: “University of Texas at Austin and Catholic University in Washington D.C.”

Q: What did you do before this?
A: “I worked for Communities in Schools and for a small non-profit working with people affected by HIV/AIDS.”

Q: What is your favorite part about working for the LCNC?
A: “Meeting inspiring cancer survivors every day and being able to share in their journey.”

Q: What is your job like on a day-to-day basis?
A: “I have the privilege of talking to cancer survivors (any one affected by cancer) and offering emotional support over the phone, online, and in-person.”

Q: What does fighting cancer mean to you?
A: “Fighting cancer means recognizing your inner strength and accepting the strength and support of those around you.”

Q: How long have you worked at the LIVESTRONG Foundation?
A: “2 years.”

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Austin?
A: “Go walking on the trails by Lady Bird Lake.”

Teresa Castro:
LIVESTRONG Navigation Center Coordinator

Teresa is the first point of contact for everyone entering the Austin based LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center from the community and answers and directs all incoming calls. She is also responsible for providing guidance, initial intake, and the oversight of the Navigation Center onsite resources and library.

Q: Where are you from?
A: “Fort Worth, Texas.”

Q: Where did you go to school?
A: “University of Texas at Arlington.”

Q: What did you do before this?
A: “I worked for Texas Ballet Theater.”

Q: What is your favorite part about working for the LCNC?
A: “Working with our wonderful volunteers.”

Q: What does fighting cancer mean to you?
A: “Remembering that a cancer diagnosis affects many people and it’s important that we are here to help them all.”

Q: How long have you worked at The LIVESTRONG Foundation?
A: “4 years.”

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Austin?
A: “Watch movies at Alamo Draft house.”

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
A: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” –Oscar Wilde

Brendan Bietry:
Financial Navigator

Brendan provides support in regard to a client’s cancer-related financial, insurance, or employment concerns. These services include help with access to care, medical debt, job retention, and specialized assistance related to a client’s illness.

Q: Where are you from?
A: “Michigan City, IN (NW Indiana – 1.5 hours east of Chicago)”

Q: Where did you go to school?
A: “Indiana University – undergraduate, San Diego State Univ. – graduate”

Q: What is your favorite part about working for the LCNC?
A: “Job satisfaction tied to working with clients in person.”

Q: What does fighting cancer mean to you?
A: “Handling the burdensome business concerns that disallow and delay care.”

Q: How long have you worked at The LIVESTRONG Foundation?
A: “With Patient Advocate Foundation for over 6 yrs and as a LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center team partner for 4.5 yrs.”

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Austin?
A: “Find a watering hole and swim in it – hang out with friends/restauranting.”

Q: What is one thing that you would like people to know about you?
A: “I have unique experience with access to care issues/obstacles related to cancer patients.”

One thought on “Meet the LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Texas Team”

  1. Pingback: LIVESTRONG Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *