Hearing the sentence, “You have breast cancer” will transform a woman’s life in a matter of seconds. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2013 an estimated 297,000 women in the United States will hear those words from their physician. The majority of these women – an estimated 232,000 – will be told they have invasive breast cancer- cancer that has spread beyond where it began.
With those four words, a woman’s outlook can change from a sense of good health and feeling confident, to being overwhelmed and uncertain about the future. Not only is the woman dazed, but her family is stunned and confused. A multitude of thoughts are going through their minds; thoughts about how they are going to navigate through this uncharted territory.
This is the point that I enter a woman’s life. As the Blessing Breast Center Navigator, I am available to help guide women through the unfamiliar process. I know the various stops that they will have from diagnosis to treatment—surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy—and into survivorship. I act as their guide and resource on their journey.
I also help them find answers to questions from “What is the best treatment?” to “Will I lose my hair?” and everything in between. If desired, I accompany each woman and her family to her surgeon, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist appointments to be supportive, to take notes during the visits and then explain afterwards any unfamiliar terms and answer questions.
I feel like I am their “anchor” to hang on to while they are going through their breast cancer journey. I am a constant; someone that they can reach out to for help or support at any time. I can assist them with everything from finding transportation to treatments, financial needs such as gas cards to meeting their physical needs such as obtaining a wig, a turban or breast prosthesis and seeking emotional help with our Oncology Clinical Therapist.
I try to calm the woman’s anxiety and reduce her family’s fears. Most of all, I show them that they are not alone on this journey.