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Medical City Healthcare

Oncology nurse navigators help patients on their cancer journey

Medical City Healthcare has specialized registered nurses who can assist patients through the transitions that come with cancer treatment and recovery.

May 20, 2024
Female doctor and bald cancer patient talking in clinic examination room

By Gwen Spector, BSN, RN, COCN, Oncology Nurse Navigator, Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Medical City Healthcare

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a frightening and numbing experience. Once people are diagnosed with cancer, the next steps can move so fast that it can leave them feeling lost or unable to catch their breath.

The cancer journey can be long, physically and emotionally challenging. It can feel like a full-time job thrust upon them and their loved ones when they’re not prepared. They may not know what they need or are unsure of what resources are available to them. Patients can be confused by the amount of information they receive; overwhelmed by the decisions they need to make and steps they have to take; and worried by the uncertainty of their future. They can be intimidated to ask questions of their medical team, but then left not fully understanding what is going to happen.

Medical City Healthcare has its own cancer service line. This service is patient-centered, allowing patients to get cancer care close to home. It provides access to many resources, such as oncology nurse navigators, to assist patients on their cancer journey.

The Sarah Cannon oncology nurse navigators are registered nurses who specialize in specific cancer types, such as breast cancer, lung cancer, GI cancers and gynecologic cancers. Navigators help guide patients, free of charge, throughout the duration of their care. They meet patients where they are on their journey and provide an additional layer of support for them and their loved ones through the many phases of their cancer experience.

Oncology nurse navigators have many roles, each of which helps patients and their loved ones navigate the complex system of cancer care. Navigation means something different to each patient. It can be a little thing that just makes patients feel better, like knowing that someone is there if they need to ask questions or to check in with them. It can be a big thing, like helping them find the resources they need to get their treatment and potentially save their life. It’s often many things, big and small, that help patients move easier through their cancer journey. Even when patients have their cancer care set up and all of the resources they need, oncology nurse navigators can enhance what their team is doing and improve their healthcare experience.

Here are the main ways oncology nurse navigators help cancer patients:

  • Provide a personalized and individualized assistance to patients and their loved ones, in person or by phone.
  • Help patients understand their cancer diagnosis and treatment options by translating medical terms into more understandable language, educating them on what to expect, clarifying misconceptions, encouraging them to ask questions, and giving them educational materials and reputable websites for learning so they can make the best decisions for themselves.
  • Guide patients and caregivers with tips on how to manage day-to-day life with cancer and work with them to help them prioritize what they need to do to stay on the correct course.
  • Identify and help remove barriers that may prevent or delay patients from getting their cancer treatment. Navigators connect patients to local and national resources to address deficits such as financial, transportation and child care needs.
  • Provide emotional support for patients and caregivers. They listen, acknowledge their feelings and decisions and provide compassionate recommendations. Navigators can be a sounding board for patients to talk through decision making and planning. They help remove feelings of guilt and shame. They provide emotional support resources for them and their families, including how to help their children cope with their diagnosis. They are cheerleaders for them, celebrating big and small victories.
  • Help patients with the transitions they are experiencing: from normal life to being a new cancer patient to being treated for cancer to completing treatment and remission.
  • Follow patients along their journey, checking on their physical health, such as side effects and nutrition status, and emotional health, as well as finding support and resources to help improve problems they are experiencing.

Sarah Cannon oncology nurse navigators play many roles to help patients throughout their cancer journey. They are patient advocates and educators. They collaborate with other members of the multi-disciplinary cancer care team to help patients get the care they need. They improve patient outcomes by providing consistent and personal guidance.

  • askSARAH is a dedicated helpline for your cancer-related questions, staffed 24/7 by specially trained nurses. Contact us at (972) 202-8877.


May 20, 2024

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