What is a Breast Cancer Health Navigator?
Marsha Schmit, RN, BSN, Hurley’s Certified Breast Cancer Nurse Navigator, shared some of the duties she provides while helping women battling breast cancer:
- Sits down one-on-one with a patient and family members shortly after diagnosis to answer questions and offer another layer of information and support after the patient has met with her doctor.
- Meets with patients before and after surgery to provide recovery tools for the patient’s healing process, such as a heart-shaped pillow to use under a seat belt on the ride home from the hospital, and under the arm while healing. She also provides an exercise book and a squeeze ball to strengthen muscles after surgery and, if needed, drain pouches, a camisole and information about the recovery process.
- Refers patients for other assistance, based on a distress assessment they complete. Some examples: Referrals for financial assistance or spiritual support. Referral to the American Cancer Society to get a personal health care manager kit mailed to their home with more information to aid the recovery process.
- Plays a key role in ongoing fund-raising projects to help keep a local resource available to women who are in the middle of treatment and find themselves struggling with financial issues.
- Co-facilitates support groups at the Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute with Rhonda Rice, the GHCI social worker. The Pink Perfection group meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month from 3-4:30 p.m. to discuss trends in care, long-term effects and how to regain a new normal life after treatment. A group for patients with metastatic disease is held on the second Thursday of each month from 2:30-4 p.m. to address more complex issues.