Breast Cancer: It’s Personal – A Patient Navigator’s Journey with hundreds of Women

A strong feeling of anxiety.  The mind wondering, “Will everything be ok?” When you walk into the Diagnostic Center for Women we understand the emotional roller coaster you may be on, but the decision to come through our doors is one that could save your life.

As a certified breast patient navigator, I have the unique opportunity and privilege to accompany women every step of the way and reassure them that walking into our center is the best decision they could make.

I was nervous when I first took on this position, but when I started working with Dr. Carrie Horst, the center’s medical director, something clicked. The connection with the patients was instant, and I saw how in this role I could make a difference. At the start this was a trial for three months; now nine years later I’m still here connecting with the patients and loving my role helping women through what may be a very difficult time.

Women of all ages come in for a routine annual mammogram and plan to go home or back to work and get on with their day and their lives as they know it. They have plans for the rest of the week, and the future ahead, and some of them may have to stop everything and delay some of those plans.

My goal is to make sure that they just don’t concentrate on the diagnosis. I want them to look ahead at the possibilities, and to know that they are not alone. They have a team. We will help them fight this. I cannot promise each woman that everything will be fine.  I wish I could. I can tell them they are in great hands and will get the best possible care. We will work – together – to make everything possible.

What sets the Diagnostic Center for Women apart from other centers is that all the different departments work together to make things easier for our patients. Every woman is a daughter, a mom, a sister or a friend, and so we treat them as if they were our daughters, moms, sisters, and our friends. We make it personal.

We learn about their life story. We are invited into a most delicate time of their lives and we treat that as the precious gift that it is.

Many of the relationships we establish along the care and treatment journey are long lasting. Patients often come back to us after they have completed treatment to let us know how they are doing and what’s now happening in their lives. It’s those same patients who have been through the journey, who now offer to help those currently on that unfortunately familiar path. It’s one of the blessings of surviving a cancer diagnosis. Helping others in return and realizing, personal inner strength and appreciating all the good things in life.

Simply put, mammograms save lives. That’s why Breast Cancer Awareness Month is so important. It raises awareness about how early detection is key to conquering this disease. It works. The awareness created in the month of October brings us many patients.

I thank God every day for my job. You need to wake up and love what you do. The women who walk into the center as a patient, they leave as a friend. While yes, getting a mammogram can be filled with anxiety, it can also save your life.  When people ask me what we do at the center, I tell them we save lives. My request to all of you today is to call us and make an appointment for a mammogram.