We partner with patients every step of the way to ensure they understand all aspects of their cancer experience. In addition to receiving information from their multidisciplinary team of caregivers, patients may access a number of helpful online resources.
Also available is the resource library containing more than 400 current items available on a variety of subjects. Topics vary from cancer diagnosis and treatment, lymphedema, nutrition, exercise, pain, caregiving children and family to complementary treatment, genetics and end-of-life issues and professional resources. Items may be checked out on a monthly basis and many can be kept for future reference. The library is open to patients, caregivers, health professional and the public. For more information, call (985) 898-4581 or click here.
To better understand how to manage the effects of your treatment, instruction cards are available with general guidelines. Your treatment team will provide you with any additional information you may need and can help answer questions.
UNDERSTANDING RADIATION THERAPY
The Center’s nutritionists will help you follow a healthy diet during and after your cancer treatment. They have special training in oncology and nutrition, and base their advice on scientifically sound nutrition research. We also offer additional online information, based on your specific cancer type.
MEET YOUR DIETITIAN
Quitting can be a challenge, but you don’t have to do it alone. Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center offers our Geaux Free tobacco treatment program at no cost for people who want to kick the habit. Geaux Free helps individuals prepare for quitting, managing withdrawal symptoms, identifying triggers that create urges, learning new behavior and skills to remain tobacco-free, and developing a support network.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with our certified tobacco treatment specialist, please call (225) 215-1274
TOBACCO TREATMENT PROGRAM
Geaux Free is available to anyone 18 years of age or over at no cost. Participants receive one-on-one tobacco treatment onsite at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, which includes initial tobacco use assessments, medication assistance and counseling sessions (individual appointments). A certified tobacco treatment specialist will work with you and your physician to develop an individualized plan to quit based on your tobacco use. After completing individual counseling, participants can enroll in phone counseling for additional support at no charge.
FREE CESSATION MEDICATIONS AVAILABLE FOR LONG-TIME SMOKERS
The Cancer Center is partnering with Smoking Cessation Trust Management Services to offer Free Cessation Medications and support services to qualified individuals.
Due to a final judgment in a class action lawsuit, Louisiana residents who developed a smoking habit before September 1, 1988 could be eligible for free cessation medications and other services to help break the tobacco addiction. Click here for more information.
Don’t let your fun in the sun turn into a burn! Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is educating local youth about sun safety to help reduce chances of skin cancer as an adult.
Download these PDFs to learn about how you can protect your skin and reduce your chances for cancer later in life:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
If the doctor orders radiation therapy for me, how do I schedule appointments for my radiation treatments?
The radiation therapists will call you after your planning scan to schedule your first appointment. They will work with you and schedule your remaining treatments on your first treatment day. Your radiation therapists will do their best to accommodate your scheduling needs however, please understand that the treatment machines have a very busy schedule and you may be moved a few times before getting your choice of appointment time.
Can I change my appointment each week?
We prefer that once your radiation appointment time is set, you keep that time for the entire course of treatment. Please arrange outside appointments around your treatment schedule. If you must change your treatment time, please talk with your therapist several days in advance and we’ll do our best to accommodate your request. In addition, there may be times that we will have to change your appointment due to unexpected scheduling issues. We will give you as much notice as possible.
How often are my treatments delivered? How long will my treatments take each day?
Radiation treatments are generally delivered five days per week, Monday – Friday, for two to nine weeks, depending on the tumor type and location. Each treatment (from the time you enter to the time you leave the department) takes about 15-45 minutes.
What do I do if I am unable to keep a scheduled appointment?
Please notify your radiation therapist as soon as possible by calling your treatment machine.
How many treatments will I be having?
The number of treatments will vary between individual patients and the various diseases being treated. Some patients receive only a single treatment, others as many as 45. Your doctor will review the treatment objectives and goals and number of treatments being planned for you.
I have a planned vacation. Can I take time off from my radiation therapy treatments? Can I miss treatments?
Radiation treatments provide the optimal outcome if delivered in succession. Breaks in treatment are not in your best interest, unless there is a family crisis or medical reason. Discuss vacation plans with your doctor early in the planning process or before your treatment begins.
Do I need to make up missed treatments?
Yes, your doctor will prescribe a definite number of treatments. If you miss a treatment, it will be added to the end of your treatment schedule.
Calling My Doctor
How do I contact my doctor?
During regular business hours call:
|Baton Rouge||(225) 767-0847|
The operator will connect you with a member of your treatment team who will assist you or direct your call to your doctor. After hours call: (225) 767-0847 The answering service will take your message, and the doctor on call will return your call within the hour.
What if I have a medical question that is unrelated to my radiation therapy?
Call your primary care doctor or your medical oncologist with issues, questions or concerns unrelated to your radiation therapy or cancer diagnosis. In an emergency please report to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Prescriptions and Medications
How do I get a prescription filled?
Please call to have prescriptions filled during office hours. When you call, please have the name and number of the pharmacy where you would like your prescription filled ready.
Will the doctor prescribe all my medicines while I’m taking treatments?
Your radiation oncologist will manage your treatments and any side effects associated with your radiation treatment. You must continue to see your primary care doctor for your routine medications.
Does Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center provide transportation?
If you need transportation or are having problems with transportation, please see the social worker for assistance.
Radiation and Side Effects
Will the radiation treatments make me sick? What are the side effects I can expect?
With the possible exception of fatigue, side effects from radiation generally occur in the area that is being treated. For example, if we are treating your abdomen, then you may be nauseated or if we are treating your brain, you may lose your hair. The radiation does not affect any site other than the one being treated. Your doctor will review the side effects of your treatment with you.
Will radiation therapy damage normal tissue?
Radiation therapy is designed to treat tumor cells; however adjacent normal tissue will receive some radiation therefore some normal tissues may be temporarily affected. These effects usually resolve themselves shortly after treatment. Rarely, delayed or chronic complications may occur. Please check with your radiation oncologist for further information.
Are you going to burn me with radiation?
Reactions to radiation vary from patient to patient and are dependent upon the site of treatment. The dose given to a certain area or depth of tissue determines surface reaction of the skin. Tumors farther from surface area, like prostateor uterus, have very little skin reaction. Tumors closer to the skin surface, like the larynx (voice box) or throat, have potential for increased skin reaction.
Are there any restrictions on who I may visit, i.e., do I have to stay away from children or pregnant women?
No, patients receiving external beam radiation do not become radioactive.
Do I become radioactive after a treatment? Will I “glow in the dark”?
No – there will be no radioactivity in your body when you leave the treatment room.
Will I lose my hair?
Radiation has almost all of both its good and bad effects isolated to the area to which it is given. If your head is not being treated, you will not lose your hair.
How Will I Feel?
Can I drive myself for treatments?
If you are able to drive and have not been told to stop driving, then you may continue to drive yourself. If your condition changes, and you are taking narcotics, then you may not be able to drive. Ask your doctor about this.
Can I work while taking treatments?
The answer to this question depends on how you are feeling, the type of treatment you are receiving and your type of work. Although it may be necessary for some cancer patients to take a leave of absence from work, many continue working throughout their treatment and recovery. Ask your doctor about what you can expect. Just remember, each patient handles and responds to treatment and recovery differently. It is also important to openly communicate your needs with your employer so that he/she may plan in case you need to decrease your hours, schedule an absence or have increased flexibility.
What is Computed Tomography Simulation?
Computed Tomography or CT Simulation is the process by which the area to be treated is identified with a special X-ray machine called a CT Scanner. A CT Scanner X-rays the body from many angles, allowing your doctor to accurately pinpoint the area of interest. During this test you will be asked to lie on a narrow hard table. It is very important to hold still during this exam.
Where do I go for my CT?
Please check in with the receptionist in the waiting room. The CT technologist will come and escort you to the CT room.
How much time is involved?
Simulation time varies for each patient, but please plan on one hour. The information received from the CT will go directly into the treatment planning computer. The CT will be used by your doctor and physics staff to design a specific treatment technique used for your daily treatments.
Who does the CT Simulation?
The simulation will be done by a licensed CT technologist under the direction of your doctor.
When will I start my treatments?
The treatments usually start 5-10 days following CT Simulation.
How many treatments will I be getting?
The number of treatments is different for each person. At the time of your first treatment your radiation therapist can usually tell you how many treatments are planned for your treatment or you can consult your doctor.
Wigs and Hair Pieces
Hair pieces have come a long way from the first hair pieces which were made of human hair or animal hair. Today, the new synthetic hair pieces are more comfortable and affordable. If you have considered using a hair piece, here are a few questions which you may have wanted to ask but did not know who to ask.
Will I lose my hair from my radiation treatments?
You will not lose your hair on your scalp unless you are receiving radiation to your head or if you are receiving certain chemotherapy treatments.
If I lose my hair, what kind of hair piece should I get?
There are different types of hair pieces. You should consult with a specialist and choose the one that best fits your life style.
1. Human Hair: Human hair pieces are made of human hair and require the same maintenance as growing hair.
2. Synthetic Hair: Synthetic hair is made of polyester fiber and has the same qualities as those of a piece of clothing. A wig made of polyester fibers does not require setting every time it is washed.
What size should I get?
Full hair pieces (wigs) are made on stretchable mesh caps which usually have a velcro strap attached for easy adjustment. One size, therefore, usually fits all.
How do I clean a wig?
Most hair pieces should be washed in Woolite, or a similar gentle fabric detergent. They should be swished gently in soapy water, rinsed thoroughly, and hung to drip dry. This would apply to synthetic wigs. Human hair wigs should be shampooed and set as normal hair, either at home or at your beauty salon.
What color or style should I choose?
Picking the color or style which is closest to your natural hair will be most pleasing and comfortable emotionally since it will not be such a drastic change.
Can I use insurance to help pay for my wig?
Be sure and ask your oncologist for a prescription to get a wig. The cost is partially or fully covered by most insurance companies.
Will you bill my primary and secondary insurance?
You will need to provide us with complete primary insurance information. As a courtesy to our patients, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center submits bills to your insurance company and will do everything possible to advance your claim. Doctor and Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center charges will be included on one bill. However, it may become necessary for you to contact your insurance company or supply additional information to them for claims processing requirements or to expedite payment.
Are itemized statements automatically sent to patients?
No. We send monthly statements to the patient, which include only the charges with a patient balance. To request an itemized statement, call the Business Office at (225) 215-1257.
Do you offer payment arrangements?
Yes, payment arrangements may be made by contacting the Business Office at (225) 215-1257.
Do you provide estimates for my course of treatment?
Yes. However, it is only an estimate, which is based on your individual course of treatment.
Why am I receiving a refund check?
There was an overpayment to your account. Either you paid too much on the account and/or your insurance paid at a later date and covered some of what you already paid.
Why did my insurance deny the claim?
One or more of the following may apply:
• The service you received was not covered under your plan.
• You did not provide the correct insurance information at the time of service.
• The service you received was from a doctor outside your plan’s network.
• You were not covered by your plan at time of service.
• Your primary care doctor did not process a referral for the services or an authorization was not obtained prior to the services being rendered.
Can I come in and talk to someone regarding my bill?
Yes, our patient financial counselors are here to assist you from 8:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday.
Must I check in each time I come to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center?
Yes, information gathered from patient registration is stored in our computer system. We retrieve this information each time the patient returns for services and we ask the patient to verify that the information is current and accurate. Medicare requires that specific questions be asked to determine whether Medicare or another payor is primary. Your assistance in verifying the information is always appreciated. Information may be obtained prior to the service, eliminating a stop at the registration office.
I don’t have any insurance. Is there any help available?
We can assist you in several ways: we have financial counselors who will assist you with applying for Medicaid or will give you advice on how to proceed. If you do not qualify for any type of Government programs, we can review your financial status to see if you qualify for Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s Financial Support Program.
Why is there an error on my bill?
If you have questions about your bill, or believe that it is incorrect, call the Business Office, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Confidential voice mail is available after hours and your call will be returned on the next business day.
What is a co-payment?
A co-payment is a set fee the member pays to providers at the time services are rendered. Co-pays are applied to office visits, emergency room visits, hospital admissions, etc. The costs are usually minimal. The patient should be aware of the co-payment amounts prior to the date of service.
What is a deductible?
Deductibles are provisions that require the member to accumulate a specific amount of medical bills before benefits are paid. For example, if a member’s policy contains a $500 deductible, the member must accumulate and pay $500 out of pocket before the insurance carrier will pay benefits. Once the patient has met their deductible, the carrier usually pays a percentage of the bill. The patient is liable for the unpaid percentage. Deductibles are yearly, usually starting in January.
What is co-insurance?
Co-insurance is a form of cost-sharing. After your deductible has been met, the plan will begin paying a percentage of your bills. The remaining amount, known as co-insurance, is the portion due by the patient.
Why did my insurance company only pay part of my bill?
Most insurance plans require you to pay a deductible and/or co-insurance. In addition, you could be responsible for non-covered services. Please contact your insurance company for specific answers to your questions. You may have out-of-pocket expenses.
Why do I need to call the insurance company if they do not pay the bill?
If you have a PPO policy, you are ultimately responsible for the total bill or any portion of the bill your insurance carrier does not pay. The Business Office will make every effort to resolve the account balance with your insurance carrier. Occasionally, we will be unable to resolve the issue with your carrier and will need your assistance.
If I have an HMO policy, can I be billed if they do not pay?
If you have an HMO policy, you should only be billed for the amount specified on your explanation of benefits (EOB) that is provided to you by your insurance carrier. This usually includes co-pay amounts, deductibles and non-covered services.
I belong to a managed care plan. What should I do before I begin treatment?
Read your insurance plan booklet to be sure you have followed all the guidelines for referrals and authorizations, or call your insurance carrier for assistance. Failure to follow your plan requirements may result in greater out-of-pocket expenses for you. Your primary care doctor plays a very important role in this process. If you receive a verbal authorization number, please provide us with this information at registration.
How do I know if my health plan includes Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center?
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center participates in most major health plans in Louisiana. In addition, please review your health plan provider directory and/or consult with your health plan to confirm coverage.
How will Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center know in which health plan I participate?
Please present your current health plan identification card when you register at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.
What is the difference between an HMO and a PPO?
Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) require a patient to select a Primary Care Doctor to coordinate his or her care. Most HMOs provide care through a network of hospitals, doctors and other medical professionals, that as a patient, you must use to be covered for that service. Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) provide care through a network of hospitals, doctors and other medical professionals. When patients utilize health care providers within the network, they receive a higher benefit and pay less money out of their pocket. Services received by a non-participating hospital or doctor may still be covered, but often at a reduced benefit level.
What does “in-network” and “out-of-network” mean?
If you receive your health care services from a hospital, doctor or other health care provider that participates in your health plan, they are often referred to as “in-network.” Hospitals, doctors or other health care providers who do not participate in your health plan may be referred to as “out-of-network.”
How do I know if my health plan requires a referral or pre-certification for a service?
Your benefit book or provider directory should provide this for you. If not, call the customer service phone number listed on your identification card.
What should I do if my health plan includes Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center as a participating provider, but I receive an explanation of benefits stating I am out-of-network?
Consult your health plan.
What if I have questions on my bill?
If you have questions about your Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center bill, or feel that it is incorrect, call (225) 215-1257 Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Please have the patient’s name and account number listed on the bill ready when you call.
Disability and Social Security
What are my rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to this act, a person with a disability is one who:
• Has physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
• Has a record of such an impairment
• Is regarded as having such an impairment
As long as the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee does not cause “undue hardship” to the operation of an employer’s business, that employer must make accommodations for the employee. The ADA defines undue hardship as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as an employer’s size, financial resources and the nature and structure of its operation. Lowering quality or production standards to make accommodations for a disabled employee is not required by the employer. The employer is not responsible for providing personal items for the disabled such as glasses or hearing aids. For more information:
What is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are insured, meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. Supplemental Security Income pays benefits based on financial need. Social Security definition of disability based on your ability to work:
• Cannot do work that you did before and Social Security Administration determines that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s)
• Your disability must last or be expected to last for at least one (1) year or result in death
This is a strict definition of disability. Social Security program rules assume that working families have access to other resources to provide support during periods of short-term disabilities, including workers’ compensation, insurance, savings and investments. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.
How do I Apply for Social Security Disability?
• Apply as soon as you become disabled
• Apply at the nearest Social Security office, by phone or by mail
What information will I need to file a claim?
• Your social security number and proof of age
• Names, addresses and phone numbers of doctors, hospitals, clinics and institutions that treated you and dates of treatments
• Names of all medications you are taking
• Medical records from your doctor, therapists, hospitals, clinics and caseworkers
• Laboratory and test results
• A summary of where you worked and kind of work you did
• Your most recent W-2 form, or your tax return if you are self-employed
Important: You will need to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office. You can mail or bring them to Social Security. Photocopies will be made and your originals returned to you.
How long will it take?
Claims for disability benefits take more time to process than other types of Social Security claims. Usually from 5 to 6 months. You can help shorten the process by bringing the required documents with you when you apply and by helping Social Security get any other medical evidence needed to show that you are disabled.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to ask your social worker.
Things to consider when accessing online resources:
- The information found in many online communities is anecdotal and not scientifically proven. Please discuss any information you find with your provider before making decisions about your treatment to ensure you have accurate information which is backed by scientific evidence.
- It is easy to compare your situation with someone else’s. Try to avoid that temptation as no two people’s experiences will be the same, even with similar illnesses.
- Just as with any type of support, online support is not for everyone, and not every online support opportunity is the same. It may take time to find the right option for you.
Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center assumes no responsibility for the information contained on these sites. The information you may find does not replace medical advice from your health care provider because your experience may differ from that of the typical patient. Talk to your health care provider if you have any questions about your condition or your treatment plan.
National Cancer Institute is a federal program that is part of the National Institutes of Health. It has resources and information for patients and caregivers which is based on scientific research.
American Cancer Society (ACS) contains information on many aspects of cancer care geared toward patients and caregivers.
American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has information on the website approved by physicians belonging to ASCO.
Cancer Support Community is a national organization dedicated to providing professional patient support to patients with cancer and their loved ones. They provide a variety of supportive services. You may also reach them by phone at 1.888.793.9355.
Cancer Care is an organization providing assistance to patients including counseling, support groups, education, and links to financial assistance programs. They may also be reached by phone at 1.800.813.4673.
The Cancer Center provides patients with comprehensive, compassionate care and resources to help you and your loved ones throughout your cancer journey. Click on the links below for specific information on common types of cancer.