The Journey through cancer treatment can sometimes become overwhelming . Just digesting the news that you have cancer can be too much. The new medical terms and treatment information can make anyone one confused.
Fortunately, most cancer programs have certain people as part of the cancer team that can assist you. They are called cancer navigators. Most navigators are nurses. They can be a tremendous help to you on your cancer journey. You will often be assigned a navigator before you even have a cancer diagnosis. An abnormal test such as a mammogram or CT scan that is suspicious for cancer may prompt assignment of a cancer navigator.
What does a cancer navigator do?
- They navigate you and your family through the diagnostic process.
- They may help coordinate procedures such as additional X-rays or biopsy’s that are needed.
- They educate and support you, empowering you to make informed treatment decisions.
- They can help answer questions you may have.
- They can help you find a doctor or schedule a second opinion if you need one.
- They help you manage your cancer care by making sure you complete each step of the treatment process.
- They can go with you to your doctors appointments
- They remain a support system for you throughout your treatment process
- They can make referrals to other support staff, such as social workers and nutritionists.
- They can arrange financial counseling and help with insurance issues
- Make you aware of any support groups in your area.
- Inform you of special events or programs that you qualify for.
- They can be an ear when you need to talk and someone to encourage you when you are feeling down.
- They call and check on you periodically during your treatment
- They can assist your caregivers
Not all cancer navigators are created equal. Some will do more than others. You may have to ask for assistance with some things. It’s important that you let them know what you need.
A cancer navigator can be a life saver. This person can be your one stop shop to getting all of the support you need during your treatment process. If you don’t have a cancer navigator, call your doctor to see if one is available at your hospital. They may save you time and money by telling you all you need to know about the treatment process.
Even though I am a cancer doctor, I still had a navigator. Everyone needs support during the treatment process, even me.