Coping with a breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, and patients often have many questions. To provide education and reassurance throughout the treatment process, Weslie White, RN, works in collaboration with the Women’s Imaging Center at St. Mary’s as a nurse navigator.
“I educate patients about what’s going to happen, their treatment options and the side effects they may have,” says White, who is also director of oncology services. “I help them make informed decisions,” she says, noting that decisions made early on regarding cancer care often affect the treatment patients may need down the road.
White explains that the navigator role has come about as a natural expansion following the opening of the Cancer Center at St. Mary’s. Having this extra support gives people an opportunity to have someone with them when they’re going through different emotions following a cancer diagnosis. “They may go home and talk with a friend or a sister and have more questions,” White says. “We’re a resource for them. If they need us, we’re here.”
The nurse navigator can also help with making appointments and can provide information about resources that are available through the hospital to help patients manage the different personal challenges and physical changes they may experience. Additionally, patients are invited to share their experiences and find encouragement through the hospital’s Adults with Cancer Support Group.
“It’s really a lasting relationship,” says White, noting that many patients stay in touch even after their treatment is complete. Overcoming a cancer diagnosis can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life, and the team at St. Mary’s is committed to making treatment and recovery as comfortable and positive an experience as possible. “It’s nice when people come back and share that they’re still cancer-free,” White says. “We celebrate that.”
The Adults with Cancer Support Group at St. Mary’s meets the second Thursday of each month from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Women’s Imaging. For more information call 580-249-5504.
To help patients look and feel their best while they’re going through cancer treatment, St. Mary’s has an American Cancer Society Resource Room, where patients can choose from a selection of wigs, turbans, hats and other head coverings — free of charge. Brochures, pamphlets and other literature from the American Cancer Society are also available as an educational resource.