Cancer navigators: your allies during treatment and beyond
When a cancer diagnosis leaves you feeling overwhelmed and facing a host of unknowns, having a compassionate and knowledgeable person by your side can provide more than just peace of mind. Cancer navigators guide patients, their caregivers, and their loved ones during every stage of care. Find out more about these valuable professionals and how they help patients have a more positive experience.
Cancer navigators do a lot
Also known as a patient advocate or care coordinator, a cancer navigator helps patients move through each phase of their disease, from diagnosis to cancer treatment and beyond. The cancer navigator's job is to help bridge the gaps many patients and families face at all points of the healthcare system.
These valuable professionals help patients communicate their individual needs and preferences effectively with other clinicians. They also work closely with patients to identify barriers to getting care and assist them in getting the resources and support they need.
Although patient navigation services are helpful for anyone with cancer, they may be especially useful to those who live with food and housing insecurity, lack childcare or eldercare support, have transportation needs, or encounter other barriers to their treatment. Cancer navigators may do any of the following tasks:
Help make appointments. Patients just diagnosed with cancer need additional screenings, tests, treatments, and follow-up visits. Your navigator stays on top of your schedule, helps arrange appointments, and makes it easier for you to keep everything on track. Their goal is to help you stay up to date with your treatment plan, manage your symptoms, and answer questions about both.
Connect you with financial support. Managing a condition like cancer often results in increased sick days and medical bills. Your cancer navigator can review your financial needs and recommend support services, such as disability insurance or other resources for which you may be eligible. Their goal is to help manage financial concerns, so you can focus on getting better.
Manage employment issues. Having cancer creates real concerns about how your illness will affect your job and career. A cancer navigator can help you explore different policies, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), designed to protect you when you're ill.
Arrange transportation and lodging. If it's difficult to get to and from the hospital or provider appointments, your cancer navigator can help you explore transportation options in your area. They also help with lodging if you need to make appointments with specialists far from home.
Answer questions. When you have questions about your treatment options — and you will — your cancer navigator helps you find the answers. Having practical information and resources at your fingertips helps you stay informed and confident about your decisions, empowering you to play an active role on your journey.
Receiving social and emotional support. It's difficult to suddenly process so much information about your illness all at once. Treatments can also be challenging from one day to the next. Many people find comfort in knowing they have a person from the healthcare community available to support them every step of the way. Cancer care coordinators can provide referrals to community agencies and programs that help you cope, including:
- Therapists and social workers
- Social groups and workshops
- Educational classes
- In-person and online cancer support groups
Caring for a loved one with cancer can also be difficult. Cancer navigators work with families to help them find caregiver support groups and coping resources to help with loss, survivor's guilt, and other challenges.
We can connect you with an experienced cancer navigator who can help you throughout your cancer treatment and recovery. Request an appointment with a Reid Health navigator today.