Navigators offer unique breast cancer support
Elaine Bey with granddaughter Haniyah
Every woman’s worst fear became 67-year-old Elaine Bey’s reality. During a monthly self-exam, she discovered a lump in her breast. “I called my best friend, and then my gynecologist,” says Bey. “I thought – please don’t let this be cancer – but that’s what it turned out to be.”
Bey received her diagnosis, and she was steered to Jamie Hemple, RN, a nurse navigator with the Virtua Fox Chase Cancer Program. Although Bey had rocksolid support from a devoted husband and her five children, a nurse navigator played a unique role for her – acting as both a trusted clinician and an emotional touchstone.
Hemple helped guide her on the path to physical recovery and psychological healing. She offered encouragement regarding the diagnosis and surgery, explained her various cancer treatments, and listened carefully to her questions, reading between the lines to address concerns that she had.
“I can offer patients as much or as little personal support as they want,” says Hemple. In Bey’s case, treatment included surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Bey explains: “Throughout therapy, my family, friends and physicians were sources of great strength.
Also guiding me was my deep faith. Yet, quite often, I also turned to Jamie because she was such a valuable and kind resource. For example, after one round of chemo, my fingernails started to darken. I called Jamie and she reassured me that this side effect would resolve after treatment ended.”
“Jamie was my guardian angel during and after treatment,” she concludes.
Nicole Figueredo, MD, Virtua breast surgeon, says Virtua’s breast navigation program stands out.
“We offer support not only to our patients but also to their children,” explains Dr. Figueredo. Virtua social workers specialize in providing ways to talk to children about the illness – and to help children express their feelings and better understand what their parent is going through.
Dr. Figueredo was motivated to become a breast surgeon because of women’s courage. “I was inspired by the courage of women who develop breast cancer, and I wanted to learn more – to help them in every way possible.”
Her breast surgery fellowship offered the latest advanced surgical techniques for both benign and malignant breast disease, focusing on a multi-disciplinary approach to the treatment of breast cancer. The navigation program adds an important component to her care: psychological support for women and their families.
With so many important tools in her cancer-fighting arsenal, Dr. Figueredo brings her patients the latest, most important resources for combatting this disease.
Virtua’s Breast Care Navigation Program
Two types of breast navigation services are available to help coordinate care and offer support during all phases of breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.
Guides patients from an abnormal mammogram – the gynecologist alerts the access navigator who calls the patient to answer questions, review options and expedite an appointment with a specialist
Within hours after a breast cancer diagnosis, the patient is assigned to a nurse navigator who stays in contact during the patient’s entire course of clinical care and can help:
- Make appointments and coordinate care
- Explain the diagnosis, care plan and medications
- Streamline communication with physicians
- Refer patients to many cancer treatment services and resources
- Provide emotional support and can act as an advocate for the patient