Pam was always the person that others leant on – the sturdy rock amongst life’s turbulent seas. Despite being past the age of retirement, she continued in her rather demanding role as a part-time preschool teacher for children with special needs. Indeed, she couldn’t imagine things any other way.
When she was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer, and required intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatment, she found herself in an unfamiliar situation. Forever the supporter, Pam now felt it was she who needed support.
At the commencement of her first intensive round of chemotherapy, Pam reached out to her life insurer in search of just that, and was referred to the Valion Health Cancer Support for Life program.
The Cancer Support for Life program saw Pam connected to an experienced oncology nurse, charged with developing and coordinating an individual plan of care. This nurse was to act as Pam’s chaperone through her treatment journey.
Pam was connected with a complete team of allied health practitioners, all of whom boasted extensive experience in cancer care. The Valion Health team included an Exercise Physiologist, a Dietitian and a Psychologist. As Valion Health is a virtual health clinic, Pam connected with the team via video calls, personal messaging and remote monitoring, reducing the strain of travelling to appointments.
She met with her nursing care coordinator weekly via video calls. The consistency and intimacy of this contact created a supportive space in which Pam could voice her fears and frustrations, receiving expert advice and having her treatment-related questions answered in return.
The team coordinated all support around key moments in her treatment, taking into account her chemotherapy, radiation and survivorship care needs. The bespoke nature of the support struck at a core principle of Valion Health: the right care at the right time.
Throughout her program the Valion Health team regularly updated Pam’s GP, Specialist and Life Insurer on her progress.
By the end of the Valion Health program, Pam’s symptom and side effect burden was significantly reduced. As a result, her quality of life increased and her self-efficacy improved. The improvements to her physical and mental health meant that she was once again able to meet the needs of her life, both at work and at home.
The results were in no small part due to Pam’s commitment to exercise. Over the course of the treatment she was able to achieve a 12-fold increase, from 30 minutes to 360 minutes of activity per week.
She was able to return to her work as a part-time special needs preschool teacher, and was elated to once again help the children she cared so deeply for.
Reflecting on her Valion Health journey, Pam was candid about the contribution that her team made to her recovery.
“I consider this service vital. Often Doctors don’t have time, and it is the time away from the Doctor when you have questions. I felt that I was listened to and my needs were responded to with respect”
No longer needing to be supported, Pam once again found herself in a more familiar and fulfilling position of providing the support.
A registered nurse, 27-year-old Emma had suffered a series of issues over her short life that, in totality, amounted to an incredibly dire situation. There were the mental issues: her encounters with domestic violence and struggles with depression, anxiety and PTSD had all left psychological scarring. She had no home, instead staying in a hotel room as a short-term solution.
Emma suffered physical issues that were equally plentiful and severe. She struggled with chronic fatigue, which severely limited her mobility and made a return to work impossible. There was ongoing foot pain, the result of a fracture that hadn’t recovered after two operations, and that had left her wheelchair-bound.
It was this last problem that served as the catalyst for change. The foot pain became so severe that her private health fund made a referral to get that, as well as her wealth of other urgent medical needs, fully attended to.
That referral was to Valion Health, a virtual healthcare service that helps people recover from serious conditions by connecting them with Nursing and Allied Health Professionals over video calls, and organising additional face-to-face care when needed.
Given Emma’s complex set of circumstances, Valion’s Mental Health Coaching program was seen by our experts as the best way to improve both her physical and mental state. In consultation with the team, Emma set four main program goals: pain reduction, increased mobility, fatigue management and a return to work.
Designed for ultimate flexibility and adaptability, our Mental Health Coaching program is customised for each participant in a way that will maximise its benefit. This includes specialist support being added to the program depending on the participant’s needs.
The roles of the Mental Health Coach and Nursing Care Coordinator is key in crafting, managing and delivering the program, and in Emma’s case it saw her secure the different kinds of help she needed quickly, and as part of an overarching strategy.
Upon her completion of the program, Emma had either met or was well on her way to meeting each of her four program goals, and had reported vast improvement in quality of life.
Her Dietitian determined that poor nutrition had led to low levels of magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D, but more critical was her iron deficiency, which had led to anaemia. With B12 shots and an iron infusion, Emma experienced a huge increase in her energy levels.
Beyond direct treatments, dietary intake changes saw her fatigue levels decrease drastically, while her mobility and pain levels also showed significant improvement. What she has learned about nutrition is continuing to play a part in preventing relapses that could worsen the fatigue.
Emma is no longer confined to a wheelchair. With her fatigue and severe foot pain under control, she’s able to get around without assistance on most days, and is no longer reliant on nursing care.
While Emma’s journey to full recovery isn’t yet complete, Valion’s Mental Health Coaching program has helped her get further down that road than she initially thought possible. Starting at a place of hopelessness, she now finds herself looking forward to her future; one now filled with possibilities.
Post-program Emma is exploring opportunities to either return to her nursing work, or to pursue further study. Regaining her independence represents the first and most significant hurdle in her recovery, and now that it has been cleared, she feels far better prepared to tackle whatever it is that comes next.
Rachel’s life was one dominated by illness and its psychological effects, including fatigue, stress and anxiety. Having been diagnosed not only with ovarian cancer, but with accompanying metastases, her treatment schedule was an intense one.
Feeling particularly high levels of fatigue, Rachel had an acute need for support while she underwent treatment. Her long-term goals of returning to work and regaining her quality of life felt so far away during the depths of her treatment, so she reached out for help.
As a result, Rachel was referred to our Cancer Support for Life program by her life insurer.
Rachel began her Cancer Support for Life journey in a difficult place. Of particular note was the extent of her cancer-related fatigue: she self-rated her fatigue level at 8/10, where 10/10 is the worst possible score.
To her credit, Rachel retained a firm focus on her post-treatment goals: returning to work and regaining her quality of life. As such she was willing to engage with any professional who might help her down that road. And as part of Valion Health’s program, Rachel was given the opportunity to engage with Nursing, Psychology, Dietetics and Exercise Physiology professionals via a range of virtual means, including video call, personalised messaging and remote monitoring.
With the help of these experts, Rachel began to set goals. Her Exercise Physiologist developed a home-based conditioning program aimed at improving her levels of fatigue, mobility and functional capacity. Her Psychologist armed her with the tools to meet her goals relating to sleep hygiene, coping mechanisms and processing skills. Her Dietitian set goals around weight loss, and developed symptom management strategies through nutritional education and small habitual changes.
This entirely bespoke 12-week Cancer Support for Life program consisted of an initial comprehensive nursing assessment, three hours of Nursing education and support, two sessions with a Dietitian, three sessions with a Psychologist, and four sessions with an Exercise Physiologist, all delivered virtually using video call and telephone. A fitness tracker monitored Rachel’s physical activity and her sleep, and Valion’s participant app offered up a wealth of tailored educational content and resources.
Upon completion of the program, the changes in Rachael were significant. Her fatigue had all but disappeared, and she described feeling empowered and excited for the future.
As a result she was able to comfortably meet both of her pre-program goals, returning to work and regaining her quality of life. Indeed, given the relatively short 12-week timeframe, the numbers show that Rachel’s turnaround was quite stunning:
- Fatigue reduced by 90%
- 20% improvement in self efficacy
- A 120-minute increase in weekly exercise
- 90% mental and physical ‘Quality of Life’ scores
- 10/10 program satisfaction score
Having both successfully overcome an acute condition and regained her pre-cancer life, Rachel was full of adoration and admiration when looking back at her Cancer Support for Life journey:
“Excellent service! The video calls are an excellent way to enable participants to take part in the program in the comfort of their homes, and not be stressed about arranging transport.”
All in all, the program enhanced each of the most critical aspects of Rachel’s health, allowing her to become more resilient, which in turn made her feel happier and more fulfilled. Freed from the heavy weight of fatigue, she can now move on with life.
Tania is someone whose personal and professional lives have always revolved around helping and supporting others. As a part-time preschool teacher for children with special needs, and as a loving mother and wife, Tania’s life was busy and full of challenges, but overflowing with fulfillment.
Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Tania was left with a long and difficult road to recovery ahead of her. Luckily she had an insurer on her side that was committed to not just delivering the necessary treatment, but supporting her through the process. And so they referred her to Valion Health.
In assessing Tania to identify the issues she was struggling with the most, the Valion team saw two of particular note: heavy fatigue and regular nausea. The combination made it all but impossible for her to return to work. Happily one thing that Tania wasn’t struggling with was motivation: she was determined to return to the job she enjoyed so much, and so she began Valion’s Cancer Support for Life program in earnest.
Tania’s Cancer Support for Life program was built around a series of online video consultations with different allied health professionals. A device would be used to collect data on activity and sleep, and a care pack offered all the physical materials and tools Tania would need during her 12-week journey.
Tania enjoyed dedicated care coordination that handled all of the program’s logistics, as well as regular communication with both an in-person medical team and virtual allied health experts. This virtual element is often cited by participants as the greatest benefit of the program, as it removes the stresses of time and travel, granting the receipt of treatment in the comfort of their own homes. As long as they have a computer and an internet connection, they are granted access to top tier medical advice and support.
The evidence-based Cancer Support for Life program has been designed by a team of Cancer Specialists, Researchers, Consumers, Allied Health Professionals and Oncology Nursing Practitioners. It’s available to corporate customers looking to support clients diagnosed with cancer, as well as individuals managing their own rehabilitation.
Upon completing the 12-week program, Tania observed a wealth of significant health improvements. On the back of these gains she also boasted increased levels of confidence, and felt well prepared to return to work.
The post-program assessment served to demonstrate the remarkable results that can come from three months specialist support, delivered virtually:
- Tania went from struggling to do half an hour of exercise to doing almost six hours per week.
- Tania’s levels of fatigue improved significantly. Beginning at a 7/10 (10/10 being the worst possible fatigue), she completed her program with a rating of 2/10.
- From a starting point characterised by vomiting and weight loss, Tania’s nutritional status considerably improved throughout the program, moving from an MST of two to zero.
- Tania enjoyed a 40% improvement in self-efficacy of health management.
- Tania saw a measurably significant improvement in her mood, with her K10 score moving from moderate to low.
- Tania rated both her program satisfaction and the nursing care coordination 10/10.
The impact that the Cancer Support for Life program had on Tania is difficult to understate. Upon completion she was able to once again become the provider of support in her personal and professional lives, rather than the recipient of it.