WHAT TO EXPECT
Santa Fe New Mexican
Treatment plans are custom made for each patient. Ask questions and learn about the treatment process to help you feel prepared. At Christus St. Vincent’s Regional Cancer Center, you can have one person with you for all office visits and for your first treatment. What to expect with radiation: • You will meet with your medical team to plan your treatments • You will have a specialized CT scan that allows providers to design a custom radiation plan • Plan to spend at least an hour for your first treatment and 20 to 30 minutes for the rest • To protect normal tissues, you will receive treatments in a series of small doses • Prior to treatment, patients are in a co-ed waiting room without guests (Caregivers of patients who need assistance are allowed) • You will see your radiation oncologist at least once weekly • You cannot feel radiation while it is being given • The side effects of radiation are cumulative. You will not feel ill after treatment What to expect with chemotherapy: • You may receive chemotherapy through a pill or intravenously • You can sleep, read, play games, write, use your laptop or do quiet activities that help you relax • An oncology nurse will administer your treatment and discuss any questions or concerns you may have • Sessions can last anywhere from one to eight hours, depending on the treatment. The first one may be longer • Christus St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center provides pillows, blankets, wi-fi and snacks for those receiving treatment and their families Source: Christus St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center By Elayne Smith Lowe This year, Jennifer Porter is celebrating three decades dedicated to two important relationships: her wife and her patients. Porter, the lead nurse practitioner for Christus St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center, lives with her wife and four dogs in Eldorado. She started her nursing career in the Army, followed by work in emergency rooms, intensive care units and oncology research, for a total of 30 years this May. Ultimately, she moved into cancer care 13 years ago because she loved the patients and the goals of care. As an oncology nurse practitioner, Porter, 51, sees patients to assess how they’re doing with treatment and ask about symptoms, and works with their physician to make any adjustments depending on these discussions. “I just love seeing patients and trying to make them feel as good as possible while they’re undergoing treatment,” Porter said. “I get to know them, where they went on vacation or if they got a new puppy. It’s really the family aspect of our care that we provide.” While cancer care can be challenging, her patients inspire Porter. “One thing I’ve learned from these people is to be in the moment and cherish every interaction because you don’t know what the next one is going to hold,” she said. Jennifer Porter By Deborah Busemeyer Patients who need cancer treatment in Santa Fe may not know the person behind the scenes fighting on their behalf, but they are forefront in Julian Sena’s mind. As the lead oncology authorization coordinator at Christus St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center, Sena’s job is to ensure health insurance companies cover the care patients need. “I have a passion for making sure patients don’t have that financial burden so they can focus on healing,” Sena said. His role requires focus and diligence, but it’s his vast knowledge of medical codes, patient charts, treatment regimens and the kinds of questions insurance companies ask that help him avoid the dreaded denials. His record — which he would love to break — is 18 months without a single denial for radiology services. Ensuring seamless care requires great persistence. Pena scours medical charts for the proof that a patient needs a test, a scan or a medication. He saves all the authorization documents so billing can appeal any denials. “I am in the back, and I may not be pulling the strings, but I know where all the strings go,” he joked.