“You have cancer.” Those three simple words change your life forever. Here at St. Elizabeth Hospital, we hope to make your cancer journey as easy as possible. We do this by working as a multi-disciplinary team that includes your medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, thoracic surgeon, pulmonologist, social worker and patient navigator.
By working as a team we are able to provide the best possible care, with each individual playing a unique role. As a lung cancer nurse navigator, my role includes:
- Attending doctor appointments with patients and families so that they can attentively listen to and take in all of the information being given. I will take notes and help patients to fully understand all of the medical jargon, test results and treatment options.
- Checking in with patients at home to make sure all appointments are made and kept, schedules are followed, medications are being taken and questions and concerns are answered.
- Offering emotional support and encouragement when needed.
- Arranging help with transportation, insurance and financial issues
The overall role of the nurse navigator is to extend a helping hand to patients who may be feeling overwhelmed. The goal is to guide them through the system, be a resource to patients and let them know what to expect during their treatment. Though a cancer diagnosis changes your life, at St. Elizabeth Hospital it does not mean that you are alone in that change.
Cancer affects the whole person: body, mind and spirit, not just the system it targets. Many find that cancer treatment best serves a patient when conventional treatments targeting the body are supported by integrative medicine approaches that help body, mind and spirit. Research-based, proven methods are used by integrative medicine providers to help decrease the side effects of the conventional treatment such as pain, anxiety, dry mouth and sleep disturbances. While supporting the patient’s overall recovery, these five recommendations can help a patient heal and improve peace of mind:
1.) Acupuncture – Originating 3,000 years ago in China, acupuncture involves placing fine needles into specific points on the body to elicit a healing response. The stimulation of these needles corrects the flow of energy, or qi, along channels throughout the body, called meridians. Studies show acupuncture can help with nausea and dry mouth. The treatment can also be helpful for pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression and stress.
2.) Massage therapy – Another treatment that has been used for thousands of years, massage therapy is a way to heal the body, maintain wellness and to demonstrate compassionate support to others through touch. There are more than 250 variations of massage and bodywork techniques, each helping to induce relaxation, soothe muscles and promote healing. A Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center study showed a 50 percent reduction in the symptoms of fatigue, pain and anxiety in cancer patients when they received regular massage therapy treatments. Continue Reading »
Cancer can affect many areas of a person’s life; one can be challenged physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and financially. Nurse navigators have an important role in helping patients meet those challenges during their journey through cancer treatment.
The goal of the nurse navigator is to provide support at any given time during treatment. This starts on the day of diagnosis and continues through a patient’s survivorship period. Affinity Health System values the role of a navigator and offers this as a free service.
A nurse navigator helps patients by:
- Providing education on topics such as pathology, reviewing timelines for consults and treatment, pre- and post-surgery care, or reviewing information that was presented at consultations with providers.
- Connecting patients to members of the cancer team that provide resources and support, which can include oncology social workers, financial advocates, genetic counselors, dietitians and American Cancer Society representatives, to name a few.
- Educating patients and families on community resources that are available in their area. Continue Reading »
Nutrition is an important part of remaining healthy for everyone, but for individuals receiving cancer treatment, nutrition is critical. Side effects of treatment—such as nausea or decreased appetite—can make eating a healthy, well-balanced diet challenging. While not all foods work for everyone, below is a list of foods to assist in maintaining adequate nutrition when fighting through the side effects of cancer treatment.
- Eggs – Extra protein may be necessary at times during treatment and eggs are a great source for it, packing in seven grams per egg. Egg yolk is also rich in vitamins D and E. In some studies, vitamin E, an antioxidant, was shown to protect the body from the powerful toxins of cancer drugs that cause side effects.
- Ginger – Chemotherapy treatments are known for causing nausea and vomiting. From ginger supplements to ginger ale, ginger has been found to help reduce chemotherapy side effects.
- Soy – Soy contains a phytoestrogen called Genistein, which studies show to be toxic to cancer cells. Genistein may also assist in making chemotherapy work faster by helping the drugs kill tumor cells or inhibit further dividing. Sources of soy include tofu, soy flour, soy protein isolates and some dietary supplements. Discuss adding soy to your diet with your provider, as there are some contradictory findings with its efficacy. Continue Reading »