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A local nonprofit adds a personal touch to cancer care

Phoenix Cancer Support Network (PCSN) fills in gaps resulting from changes in healthcare, providing guidance and supporting cancer patients.

Cancer’s devastating impact on patients and their families made an indelible impression on PCSN founder and CEO Jenny Martin when her 21-year-old sister Annie was diagnosed Ewing’s Sarcoma and passed away at age 24.

“We had never dealt with cancer before, we didn’t know where to go for support and we were people who had experience in the medical field,” Martin says about her family’s experience. “What I learned from that journey is that there are many people who don’t have the support and guidance they need as they face the scariest thing in their life.”

Scientific and technological advances continue to improve treatment and show great promise, however, worry, fear, sadness and depression remain natural byproducts of a cancer diagnosis. Martin and the PCSN team believe that changes in medical care often come at the cost of practical and emotional patient support; and navigating the current healthcare landscape becomes exponentially more difficult. Cost cutting measures by insurers and administrators, and a growing shortage of qualified medical personnel, increasingly shapes patient care. According to PCSN, the doctor/patient relationship has been relegated to small blocks of time, if not completely replaced by telemedicine or staff lacking treatment continuity. A dearth of new doctors choosing to practice primary care exacerbates the problem.

The Association of American Medical Colleges projections show no end in sight, projecting a possible shortfall of 55,200 primary care physicians by 2033. While deficits are projected in all major fields of practice, medical students are increasingly foregoing careers as primary care physicians for the more lucrative and prestigious specialties.

Fueled in part by her loss, Martin pursued and excelled as a medical oncology administrator to do her part in fighting for those battling the disease. Her dedication garnered her an impressive depth of knowledge making her the “go to” resource for friends and colleagues facing cancer. Even as her career progressed, she became increasingly frustrated watching patients and families overcome by cancer’s wrath

Out of this frustration, while sitting at her parents’ kitchen table, Martin took the first steps to make PCSN a reality and provide support to otherwise underserved cancer patients and their loved ones. Leveraging her skills and contacts, she gathered a cadre of professionals, sharing her passion to collaborate to lighten the burdens wrought by cancer.

“If you haven’t been involved in cancer care, you don’t know who to call, you don’t know who the players are,” she shares. ” I took what I learned from that experience and turned it into a resource so that you don’t need to worry all the time.”

Her first choice for the team was her and Annie’s father, Dr. Jeffrey Weber. Dr. Weber, PCSN ‘s Chairman of the Board, brings the wisdom and compassion that earned him the appreciation of his patients, the admiration and respect of his peers, and recognition as the 2018 Arizona Medical Association Distinguished Service Award recipient.

With community support , PCSN  lifts  up  cancer warriors, providing advocacy, guidance and direction less common today while being mindful of the  unique  needs of clients  and their loved ones, according to the nonprofit. PCSN provides assistance, information, referrals, planning and coordination for: medical appointments, transportation, childcare, financial assistance, meal preparation, groceries, housecleaning, legal assistance, and more. PCSN prides itself on  its  flexible approach, collaborating to fill in  the  gaps  of  the  programs offered by fellow larger organizations assisting cancer patients.

“Cancer is such a hard thing because it not only affects your  body, but it affects everything around you,” says one cancer patient. “The fact that they [PCSN] can take away some of that pressure so you can focus on getting better is huge.”

PCSN ‘s personal, hands-on assistance is needed more than ever in today’s COVID- 19 shrouded landscape. COVID-19 poses a significant, undeniable threat to those battling the disease, Martin shares. Like many nonprofits, PCSN is continuously in need of local volunteers and financial support.

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