Women's Health

How a Health Navigator Can Benefit Breast Cancer Patients

How a Health Navigator Can Benefit Breast Cancer Patients

How a Health Navigator Can Benefit Breast Cancer Patients

Getting diagnosed with breast cancer is a challenging moment in one’s life, and for the many individuals who visit their doctor only a few times a year at most, a diagnosis can be overwhelmingly complicated as well. Patients can expect to be inundated with a lot of information regarding the specific kind of breast cancer they have and the options available to them, all of which can take a few weeks of testing and appointments simply to get moving in the right direction for treatment.

The most helpful option for someone seeking the best possible outcome is to seek advice and guidance from people familiar with breast cancer, no matter the situation the individual is in or how overwhelming the circumstances may appear to be.

Because of these needs, the services of health navigators are being advertised by many hospitals and medical centers. Such individuals are very knowledgeable and are sometimes referred to as nurse or patient navigators. Their role is to ensure that you are offered the best resources available as you move forward through your cancer treatment. They help to set your mind at ease in unfamiliar and frightening territory and alert you as to what is coming up and how to take each turn that comes along. They help the patient to make the best decisions for their treatment so that doctors can spend less time consulting. In times of emergency, too, they are easily accessible. These navigators are very important in the fight against breast cancer.

Depending on the medical institution in question, the navigation programs can begin at various points. In an attempt to move the patient from screening to early diagnosis, some programs begin immediately at the screening stage. Some, however, may wait until the diagnosis is more concrete.

Some health navigators function in a social worker capacity, such as at the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington D.C, whose health navigation program is located at the Capital Breast Care Center. Their main focus is helping women who have trouble getting to screenings. To combat this, they have developed special transportation teams for low-income residencies to pick them up for annual mammograms.

Breast cancer patients face administrative and logistical dilemmas as well, so health navigators must be well-versed in these issues. Many women opt out of screening due to high deductible rates, and in such cases, navigators will turn to philanthropic organizations to offer these women grants to help pay for follow-up diagnostics. Navigators help the patients deal with the anxiety and fear they experience during diagnosis. Educating the patient is important, as some may feel their cancer is untreatable and a finality. Health navigators have to be educators, and in light of such difficult situations, they should be capable of encouraging hope and building understanding.

The relationship between the health navigator and the patient should be built on trust for the patient to get the most benefit from the partnership. The patient and their family and friends can go through the process more easily by having a health navigator as well. The best way to get started is simply by asking. However, a health navigation program may not be necessary for individuals who are educated, employed, financially secure, and supported by family and friends. Not everyone will need or prefer help from health navigators, but the option is there.