Imagine when you hear those first words, “you’ve got cancer.” Imagine trying to process this shattering information, get a grip on your feelings and fears, share the difficult news with others you love, wonder about money and other resources… and still learn enough about the disease to feel empowered to fight it!
There’s no doubt that the diagnosis of cancer is usually overwhelming. During this fragile time, patients often feel very vulnerable and alone. But that’s where I can help in my role as a breast care nurse navigator at EIRMC.
What’s a breast care nurse navigator?
My number one goal is to provide support and personal guidance throughout the entire health care journey for women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m continually assessing our patients’ total needs (treatment, emotional support, financial resources) and helping to break down any barriers they are encountering.
For example, a typical cancer team is comprised of multiple physicians, nurses, and medical assistants. It’s sometimes difficult for newly diagnosed patients to understand the whirlwind of information coming at them, to keep appointments and schedules organized. My role is to educate patients so they feel capable of making informed healthcare decisions and to act as a liaison with the entire cancer team to better facilitate treatment.
How can a breast care nurse navigator help?
During private and confidential meetings, it is also my job to assess and reduce any barriers that face our patients and their families.
- Educate patients and families on the clinical information they are receiving, so it is more easily understood.
- Connect patients with local and national support groups to assist with emotional and social needs.
- Help arrange lodging and transportation during treatment, if needed.
- Offer suggestions on how to best communicate the diagnosis to their children, loved ones, and their employer.
These sort of services help alleviate some of the emotional and physical challenges that follow a cancer diagnosis. I hope it lightens the burden a bit, so that our patients have more stamina to fight this disease.
Emily Allred, RN/BSN grew up in Huntsville, Utah, and obtained her RN at Weber State and her Bachelors in Nursing at the University of Utah. She’s been a nurse for 15 years, with most of her time spent in critical care. Emily loves her role as a breast care nurse navigator because she gets to help people through a difficult time, and she enjoys living in Idaho because of the outdoors- you’ll find her camping, hiking, biking, and spending time with her family.