AUSTIN, TX--(Marketwire - Dec 20, 2012) - The LIVESTRONG Foundation hosted a special house warming this week for cancer survivor José Antonio Ventura and his family as the culmination of the Survivor Support Initiative, a project designed to help cancer survivors facing exceptional challenges. For the past few months, the Ventura family's home has been undergoing a renovation including interior and exterior upgrades, improvements to the landscaping and new furniture and appliances, in an effort to improve the quality of life for José Antonio, who is battling metastatic bone cancer, and his family. The renovation was made possible due to the generosity of many community partners, including: Balfour Beatty Construction, The Bommarito Group, Four Hands Furniture, H-E-B, HomeAway, Move Solutions Ltd., Redmon Construction, Rubbish Works and Texas Great Pyrenees Rescue.
"For me, LIVESTRONG means something wonderful," said José Antonio. "LIVESTRONG is an institution that really helps."
"The Austin community has really stepped up to help the Ventura family in a time of need," said Greg Lee, LIVESTRONG Foundation CFO. "We appreciate all the organizations that donated their time, money and services to help, and could not have completed this renovation without their support."
José Antonio was one of the first clients to seek support from the LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center, which opened in 2011 in the underserved East Austin community and offers free, confidential help with the financial, emotional and practical challenges that accompany a cancer diagnosis. As the Foundation learned more about him and his family, it realized the Venturas were faced with overwhelming challenges that were being precipitously worsened by José Antonio's illness, including a house in declining shape.
José Antonio's diagnosis and subsequent stroke forced him to stop working. Today, the family of five lives on the income of his wife Maria, who makes less than $20,000 a year at her job in food service, and they are faced with mounting medical debt. Even in tough times, they do their best providing for their three children. Their son Gustavo, 18, has gone above and beyond the responsibilities an average teenager, helping to care for not only his father, but also his three-year-old niece, Zurayma, and seven-year-old nephew, Miguel.
The Ventura family's situation is a microcosm of a rapidly growing issue among the U.S.'s Hispanic population. Cancer rates are projected to increase by 142 percent by 2030, compared to 45 percent for the overall U.S. cancer incidence. Hispanics, who as a demographic tend to have lower incomes, less education and less insurance, have lower survival rates for most cancers, which may reflect less access to timely, high-quality treatment. The Foundation has recently expanded its outreach to the Hispanic community in an effort to close the gap in the health disparities for Hispanics diagnosed with cancer.
Throughout his treatment at Brackenridge Hospital and MD Anderson Cancer Center, José Antonio has continued to seek support from the Foundation's navigation services, which are available in English and Spanish online, by phone and in person for anyone affected by cancer - whether you have cancer, or are a loved one, friend, health care professional or caregiver of someone diagnosed.
Trained, bilingual navigators are available to help individuals address a wide-range of needs including:
- Emotional Support - assistance coping with a cancer diagnosis, help accessing support groups, as well as peer-to-peer connections
- Fertility Risks and Preservation Options - information on fertility risks and help accessing discounted rates for fertility preservation options
- Insurance, Employment and Financial Concerns - information on employment rights and benefits, financial assistance and debt management, including insurance and billing issues as well as medication co-pay assistance
- Treatment Concerns - general cancer and treatment information, and matching to clinical trials
People affected by cancer can access the Foundation's navigation services the following ways:
- By phone
- (855) 220-7777 (English & Spanish)
- In person at the LIVESTRONG Cancer Navigation Center
Anyone interested in donating to the Survivor Support Initiative can still do so at LIVESTRONG.org/SurvivorSupportInitiative.
About the LIVESTRONG Foundation
The LIVESTRONG Foundation provides free cancer support services to help people cope with the financial, emotional and practical challenges that accompany the disease. Created in 1997 by cancer survivor and philanthropist Lance Armstrong, the Foundation is known for its powerful brand -- LIVESTRONG -- and for its advocacy on behalf of survivors and their families. With its iconic yellow LIVESTRONG wristband, the Foundation has become a symbol of hope and inspiration around the world. Since its inception, the Foundation has raised nearly $500 million to support cancer survivors and served 2.5 million people affected by the disease. For more information, visit LIVESTRONG.org.