We just returned from a highly sought visit to Austin where we were honored to explore the LIVESTRONG Navigation Center and LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION. The LIVESTRONG Navigation Center has been a much aligned program model for our rural version, Blueprints of Hope. Sarah Gomez, Navigation Outreach Coordinator, sweetly accommodated us with a preview of the navigation services LIVESTRONG delivers. The Navigation facility was eye-opening. They are providing many services Blueprints of Hope provides, but on a much larger scale than for our clients in Southwestern Colorado. The navigation team, who are mainly licensed social workers – along with the in-house Patient Advocate Foundation representative, assist with the practicalities of negotiating the intricacies cancer presents, and enable the program to have an additional layer which addresses the emotional issues related to cancer. Since partnering with the NavigateCancer Foundation, they are better equipped to offer clinical guidance relating to diagnosis and treatment, as this segment is provided by certified oncology nurses. Navigation services are provided via telephone, e-mail or in person. Our communities are one and the same, facing similar barriers – such as those related to accessing care.
Brian Myers, who is the Grassroots Marketing Director, then treated us to a tour of the green-built Foundation building. Some of us know Brian by his involvement through LIVESTRONG’s presence and association with the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic over the past few years. The Foundation is down-to-earth, possessing cubicles for all (including President & CEO, Doug Ulman) – and a community space that is shared with other like-minded nonprofits. The Tribute Wall is covered with permanent ceramic replicas of race bibs dedicated in honor or memory of someone who is “fighting” or has “fought the fight.” There are ribbon-signs of yellow with black lettering throughout, and a wall with the moving invocation of the entire LIVESTRONG Manifesto:
“We believe in Life. Your Life. We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being. . . .”
Within those simple surroundings, there are over 80 inspirational people who are dedicated to tirelessly help make lives better for all those who are fighting this cancer battle. And incredibly, there are so many who do not know about the services LIVESTRONG provides. There continues to be those who think this organization is still, somehow, about a bike.
The next time you know or meet someone who is experiencing the rigors of this journey, do those of us who are working within this realm a favor. Tell them about LIVESTRONG’s phenomenal mission, about Blueprints of Hope’s vision, and the multitude of ways our guidance can help decrease the barriers to getting the assistance, resources and services they need.
It’s our chosen life-work.