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Navigating The Battle With Cancer

Overwhelmed by the tortuous maze of our health-care system, sufferers are seeking the help of “patient navigators."

Donna Callahan, IRMC’s director of oncology services, is a firm supportor of the patient navigator system. “ The team discusses treatment options and agrees on a plan of care, which is then presented to the patient. It’s like getting a second and third opinion without leaving your living room.”

Donna Callahan, IRMC’s director of oncology services, is a firm supportor of the patient navigator system. “ The team discusses treatment options and agrees on a plan of care, which is then presented to the patient. It’s like getting a second and third opinion without leaving your living room.”

When Denise Hudspeth joined the oncology staff at Indian River Medical Center a year ago she wasted no time in scheduling regular support group meetings for those dealing with all types of cancer, as well as their families and friends. The response has been overwhelmingly positive as witnessed by the number of individuals who come to learn about the options and resources available to them, share experiences and encourage one another.

“Cancer touches everybody one way or another,” says Hudspeth, IRMC’s oncology patient navigator. “The support group is a safe place for people to talk about what they’re going through and they pour out their hearts. Everyone has different needs. Depression is a very big issue for many – I had a young woman say so what do I do with my life now that I have cancer? There is no survivor book.”

Denise, who facilitates the group meetings, has been changing that by bringing in speakers, specialists in their particular field – dieticians, financial experts and mental health professionals – who address specific concerns. She also meets one-on-one with patients, letting them know how best to deal with the current health-care system, a complex and confusing maze of physicians, treatment options and health insurance companies.

Read the entire article in the May 2012 issue