A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, but one Enid program is available to help breast cancer patients navigate through the treatment process.
The Patient Navigation Program at Women’s Imaging — through St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center — was started in April 2010.
“You can’t really think. I mean you can’t hold a thought or remember stuff, even writing it down, I’d forget to look at it,” breast cancer survivor Kathy Milvers said. “It’s just chaos. Your life’s just chaos.”
Milvers said she does not know what she would have done without the Patient Navigation Program and Nurse Navigator Sheri Sturgeon.
“I didn’t have insurance when I was diagnosed. (Sturgeon) contacted a resource, and I found out how to get insurance,” Milvers said. “She was just invaluable to me, coordinated my appointments, so that all she had to do was tell me, ‘Be here at this time.’”
Sturgeon, who also is manager of Women’s Imaging, said cancer is complicated.
“You have to do lots of testing and see lots of different physicians. The whole idea is a nurse navigator that can kind of work with the patients and coordinate things, and be an advocate there, be a resource for the patient,” she said.
From setting up appointments to providing monthly support group meetings, the Patient Navigation Program is available as soon as a breast cancer patient is diagnosed.
Olympia Baker, another breast cancer survivor, said she found support through the program.
“If you don’t have a proper support team, when you’re going through any kind of cancer, and if you need some people to support you, Women’s Imaging is a great place for people to support you,” she said. “It’s a lot of love, not from a professional standpoint, but it’s just a lot of love to let you know that other people may understand or have been through what you’re going through.”
There are anywhere from 45 to 85 Women’s Imaging patients diagnosed with breast cancer each year, Sturgeon said.
“It’s real different from person to person, what the needs are or how much information they want,” she said. “Some ladies are interested in breast reconstruction, some ladies are more interested in the financial, some ladies want to know all the different treatment options and some kind of know what they want as far as doctors and treatments go, so then my job is just to help coordinate those schedules.”
Sturgeon said the program provides emotional support for the patient and family members.
The whole idea is to simplify the process of working with numerous doctors and going through numerous tests with the patient having one contact to communicate with one on one, she said.
Working with the American Cancer Society, Women’s Imaging has a resource room that provides brand new wigs, bras and prosthetics.
“That’s a resource for breast cancer patients, but also for any cancer patient to utilize,” Sturgeon said.
The American Cancer Society also provides “Look Good, Feel Better,” through which cancer patients receive makeup and are shown how to apply it.
“We try to pull things together for our community so that it’s available for everyone. The ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ is available for anybody going through treatment,” she said.
Milvers participated in the “Look Good, Feel Better” program.
“That was really good for me,” she said.
During a patient’s treatment, Sturgeon assembles a packet of information on breast cancer, with all the appointments and information related to the patient.
Baker found the packet to be helpful, because it provided information on other activities to help the patient take some focus off of the cancer.
The monthly support group — open to any breast cancer survivor — is held at 5:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at Women’s Imaging, 316 W. Garriott.
There are survivors at the meeting to talk with newly diagnosed patients, according to Sturgeon.
Baker noted it was helpful to talk to a survivor when she was going through her cancer battle.
“It gives you that sense that, ‘OK, I’m going to be OK.’ You can’t even put into words how it makes you feel to be able to talk to someone who’s been through that,” she said.