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Needs and Deeds: Oklahoma Brain Tumor Foundation helps entire families

The Oklahoma Brain Tumor Foundation’s Director Nancy Thomason said the organization provides help with prescription medications that can be lifesaving and helps people get approved for Social Security Insurance Disability benefits.
BY NANCY MARTINEZ, For The Oklahoman Published: May 19, 2014
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The Oklahoma Brain Tumor Foundation for more than 10 years has been assisting families who are dealing with this devastating illness.

Director Nancy Thomason is all too familiar with the challenges they are facing. She made it her mission to provide support for others after her infant son succumbed from his own battle with cancer.

“We are the only organization that provides the services that we do with the focus on brain tumor families,” said Thomason. “We work not just with the patient, but with the caregivers and family members.”

The organization provides help with prescription medications that can be lifesaving and assists them to get approved for Social Security Insurance Disability benefits to provide financial sustainability for their families.

“We are able to help secure financial help for them; financial assistance grants and other things,” said Thomason.

It also provides mental health advocacy and navigation services for the federal government’s health care marketplace, said Thomason.

“Most advocacy organizations aren’t providing direct patient services for cancer patients,” said Thomason.

There is also a need to help the patients communicate or understand what their doctors are saying. Sometimes they don’t feel empowered to ask questions or get second opinions, she said.

“We are able to take these families and make sure they have access to make informed choice regarding their care,” said Thomason.

“The most vulnerable among us don’t have access to the health care that they need and because so many times the families may be on Medicaid or uninsured, those are the families that are at a disadvantage income-wise,” said Thomason.

Patient navigators at the organization help those in need to improve their quality of life and ability to survive the disease. They work side by side with physicians to make sure patients have the support that they need.

“When you have an advocate it improves their ability to survive the disease,” said Thomason. “There’s not a cure for brain tumors, so we are hoping to buy them some time. We are able to help them get into a clinical trial. They may live an additional six months or a year, then another trial that the cancer may respond to. We have been able to help our patients live more years.”

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How to help

Volunteers sought

Volunteers are needed at the Oklahoma Brain Tumor Foundation.

“We have volunteers who are able to step in. They mow their yards or change car oil. We have many clients who need to come to Oklahoma City, but don’t have transportation and can’t make it to the store or to a support group meeting.” said Nancy Thomason, executive director. “We try to get volunteers to take them to do some of the things they are willing to do. Everyone has different skills or access to different things to help a patient.”

For more information, call 843-4673or email okbtf@okbtf.org. The foundation’s website is www.okbtf.org/.

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