Just three months after immigrating to Canada with her two sons Rekha became ill. “I went to my family doctor,” says Rekha. “I explained my symptoms and was sent for testing.”
Soon after, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Alone with her boys in a new country and a frightening diagnosis, she didn’t know what to do, or who to turn to.
Many patients have a difficult time processing the information of a cancer diagnosis. The enormity of the news causes a flood of thoughts, making it challenging for patients to manage the many aspects of their own care.
We see our patients as more than their disease—we see them as people. Regular people with children and jobs and life commitments. That’s why our nurse navigators are so important for patients. They provide an array of services—medical and supportive.
Trillium Health Partners was an early adopter of the nurse navigator role at the Carlo Fidani Regional Cancer Centre at the Credit Valley Hospital site, and now has five full-time navigators to serve our cancer patients.
Our navigators contact patients immediately after their diagnosis and begin to manage all hospital processes for them. They communicate with all physicians and make all patient appointments, including biopsies, and compile all information and diagnostic images.
Navigators also provide comfort and support and ensure that patients have access to comprehensive community and professional supports.
Because newly diagnosed patients do not usually have the support they need, our navigators provide important information and resources on nutrition, exercise, sexuality, and how to talk to children about the disease, among others, as patients adjust to their new reality.
Soon after her diagnosis, Rekha had surgery and radiation and chemotherapy treatment at THP, grateful for her single point of cancer care. “I’m so thankful that I had access to treatment so close to home and didn’t have to travel far,” she says.
“Everyone at the hospital was great,” recalls Rekha. “Because of all their support and encouragement, they became like family to me. I’ll never forget what they did for me.”
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