Healthcare Partners

Navigating Cancer with Hope

3 min read
by Naureen, Oncology Patient Navigator, Houston Methodist Willowbrook

Working in Cancer Services in a large hospital system, I constantly found myself looking for resources for patients in need of psychosocial and emotional support. Then I met Tommy, an executive at CanCare who shared in detail with me about the organization’s vision, their goals and their mission. I attended several CanCare events, learned more about all their work and successes . . . and I’ve been hooked ever since!
 
I have worked with CanCare for over 20 years now and as a health care provider, it is important to me that we address not just the physical but also the emotional and the spiritual aspects of our patient’s journeys. When patients are overwhelmed, scared, and simply don’t know what to expect, it is important that I’m able to navigate their needs.  Patients taking the cancer journey are extremely vulnerable in so many ways, emotionally, educationally, socially, financially.
 
I am extremely appreciative that there is a resource committed to addressing the psychosocial and emotional needs by connecting individuals who want to be that “Buddy” to our patients.
I consider myself a very compassionate person, and as a nurse have committed my career to oncology patients. But honestly, when you think about it, I don’t know everything about what it is like to actually have cancer.  I’m grateful for that, but my perspective will never be that of someone who has taken the cancer journey, whether patient or family member. I feel fortunate that I can reach out to CanCare for help with my patient needs . . . I am truly honored to have a long-term association with this organization.
 
Once I had a patient who was absolutely devastated with her breast cancer diagnosis. She had two small children and just could not cope. CanCare matched her with someone with the exact same diagnosis, someone who also had small children so they could relate to each other. Another time I had a gentleman patient with prostate cancer who had no one other than a brother who lived in a distant state. That brother stopped communicating altogether when he heard of the diagnosis. CanCare connected him with another volunteer so he didn’t feel all alone. I have not one memorable experience, but a series of wonderful, meaningful interventions which really help improve the outcomes for these patients.
 
When it comes to a life-changing diagnosis such as cancer, the focus is usually on the patient, and on diagnostics and treatment. People forget that as human beings we need to connect with one another, and that emotional need is there from our first to our last breath while on this earth. I sincerely believe that social support is so critical for the quality of life for patients dealing with cancer and research studies have actually shown that there are improved outcomes for patients who have a good support system. Patients and their caregivers, spouses, family members, etc. can find that special emotional connection through CanCare.

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