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BUDDY CHECK 6: Resources for cancer patients

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — Recovery from breast cancer treatment requires many resources to navigate the process, many of which are available in Richmond.

After a breast cancer diagnosis, patients soon learn that it takes a team of doctors to treat the disease.  It can be overwhelming and confusing to keep track of them all and what they tell you about your treatment.

But patients need not be alone.  They can have an advocate on the cancer journey–called a nurse navigator.

The long road from breast cancer diagnosis to cure has a lot of twists, turns, and detours.  

Much like your car’s GPS, breast cancer patients can find a guide to keep them from getting lost.

Breast cancer survivor Trina Kelley said she didn’t know which direction to go in for her treatment.  Then she found her guiding star, oncology nurse Donna Moore Wilson.

“I’m the only member of the team who will not send you a bill,” Wilson told Kelley. “I’m free and that’s what they usually do.”

Wilson is one of four nurse navigators at Saint Mary’s Hospital who give patients what they need most; support and answers.  Depending on their diagnosis, patients can have as many as five different doctors, and a nurse like Wilson quickly becomes the patient’s advocate in dealing with all of them.

“When I hang up with the patient, I’m picking up the phone and I’m calling that doctor and telling that nurse, ‘I just talked to your patient she has this problem, and she’s going to be calling you,’” said Wilson.

She said giving the doctor a heads-up puts the patient right there.

Nurse navigators can help as many as 40 to 50 patients in a month, but Trina said Donna made her feel as if she was her only patient. 

“When you’re going through something like that, you don’t have anybody to turn to that knows what you’re going through,” said Trina. “It makes a difference.”

And now cancer patients are not the only ones who have nurse navigators.  Cardiology, primary care, internal medicine, diabetes and palliative care patients also have them.

You can contact a nurse navigator though the Bon Secours website, just click here.