Navigating Cancer: The Patient Advocate Foundation

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logo-paf-By Jim Felkner

 A cancer diagnosis is challenging enough, and lacking the health insurance necessary to cover treatment costs can be devastating. LIVESTRONG is helping. In fact, through LIVESTRONG’s Cancer Navigation Services, you can receive immediate counseling and support by simply walking into the headquarters in Austin, TX.

In 2006, LIVESTRONG began a partnership with the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF), a national organization dedicated to providing direct support to cancer patients by solving problems with insurance and healthcare access. That collaboration now supports LIVESTRONG’s Cancer Navigation Services.

“The key word is ‘navigation,’ said Brendan Bietry, a senior case manager with the Patient Advocate Foundation who has served in LIVESTRONG’s Navigation Center. “Effectively guiding the uninsured cancer patient through the appropriate steps to get insurance relief is critical.”

“One of my biggest concerns was my lack of insurance,” stated Scot, a patient who received assistance at the Navigation Center. “Brendan was amazing. He helped me understand all of my options and pick the right one, and he printed the paper work and helped me fill it out.”

FR2Brendan, who worked as a social worker and bilingual case manager for the Patient Advocate Foundation in San Diego, transferred to Austin in 2011. Knowing his successful background working on behalf of people in need, the Patient Advocate Foundation placed him in LIVESTRONG’s Cancer Navigation Center, where he assisted walk-ins with insurance and medical access issues.

“Brendan’s expert knowledge and experience resolving insurance, financial and employment issues for patients dealing with a medical crisis are priceless assets to our team,” voiced Erin Moaratty, Chief of Mission Delivery at PAF. “His dedication to finding solutions for the complex barriers cancer patients are experiencing is making a difference in the lives of so many. Gaining access to affordable treatment, care and follow-up can make an immeasurable impact in the emotional and financial journey associated with a cancer diagnosis.”

small-ashley“People come in to our facility in all stages of their cancer journey,” Brendan said. “Approximately 90 percent of my patients come out of a five-county area in central Texas, however, anyone affected by cancer and financial and employment issues relative to that disease can come see us. Our services are completely free to the patient. We are simply here to help.”

Need Help? Here’s What You Can Do Right Now

  1. Make contact: Contact LIVESTRONG via e-mail, phone or by walking in to the headquarters in Austin. It’s easy to get started. If you or someone you know needs help, take the first step.
  2. Get Assessed: During your initial contact, you’ll be assessed by an intake navigator. Depending on your specific situation, you will be provided with information and resources, or assigned a case manager for direct support.
  3. Answer all questions relative to your situation: Providing honest and accurate information about your scenario will ensure that case managers like Brendan can fully explore all options and find the best ways to help you.

Gabriel, a 20-year-old survivor of childhood leukemia, found the insurance support he needed through LIVESTRONG’s Cancer Navigation Services. “It had been some three years since my last checkup,” said Gabriel. “A social worker at a hospital in San Antonio told me about LIVESTRONG in East Austin, so I went there. They helped me get insurance for my checkups, and even gave me a gas card to pay for my trips to get care.”

Kathy, a breast cancer survivor from Kentucky reached out via phone to access support. “The Patient Advocate Foundation and LIVESTRONG have been lifesavers,” she said. “They fought for me so I could concentrate on getting well instead of being saddled with doctors’ bills and worrying about how to pay for them.”

mm2In addition to assisting patients with insurance issues, the LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center in East Austin provides a range of other free services for anyone affected by cancer, including patients, their families, caregivers and the healthcare professionals that work with them. Whatever your need, don’t hesitate to call or come in. Those seeking assistance should call 855-220-7777, go online at www.livestrong.org/GetHelp or visit the headquarters location at 2201 E. Sixth Street, Austin, TX 78702.


Jim Felkner, cancer survivor, is a freelance writer/editor in Austin, TX, specializing in corporate and medical topics. Jim worked directly with the Patient Advocate Foundation through its partnership with the LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center to receive help with healthcare challenges related to his diagnosis.

Brendan Bietry is one of the professional case managers at Patient Advocate Foundation that work to support cancer patients through the LIVESTRONG partnership.

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