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Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition


Baylor Cvetko Center Aids Cancer Patients

Dec 30, 2014 11:22PM ● By Julie Thibodeaux

The Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center at Dallas has a reputation as a leader in cancer care in North Texas, and one of the most innovative programs that sets it apart is the Virginia R. Cvetko Patient Education and Support Center. This outpatient program aims to help cancer patients remain at their physical and emotional best as they cope with the disease by offering myriad educational opportunities, support groups and lifestyle counseling.

The Cvetko Center staff includes a medical director, program manager, nurse educator, chaplains, social workers, psychologist, music practitioner and trained cancer survivor volunteers, offering complementary services so the whole person is treated.

The center grew out of a program started in 1981 by two friends that were both breast cancer survivors. Today, the facility offers 13 support groups, geared to different types of cancer, along with yoga classes, healthy cooking demos, meditation classes and presentations on everything from feng shui to the latest treatment options. In addition, medical staff will offer tips for dealing with the side effects of treatment, including combating nausea and fatigue.

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer remains the second most common cause of mortality in the United States, accounting for nearly one of every four deaths. Pam Carnevale, manager of the center’s integrative medicine program for those diagnosed with or have loved ones with cancer, notes the fear can be debilitating. “The first thing someone thinks is, ‘Am I going to die?’ With cancer, so much is unknown.” But survival rates for cancer are going up now with new treatments being discovered, so there is much to be encouraged by, she says. 

At the center, clients can regain their psychological and spiritual footing with counseling from chaplains, social workers and licensed therapists. The programs, excluding clinical psychologist sessions, are free and open to all, not just patients of the Baylor Health Care System. “It’s all designed to help [patients] develop their inner strength,” says Carnevale. “You need every part of yourself to fight this. Not only you, but your family.”

She says that visitors to the center will immediately find the atmosphere uplifting, with daily live performances and friendly faces to help them return their sense of normality. “You try to do anything you can to remind the patient there’s still light at the end of tunnel,” she states. “It doesn’t take away from the medical regime; it helps them to live through it.”

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Julie Thibodeaux is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.

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