How nurse navigators help patients through their cancer journey
Resource. Support System. Friend. Superhero. These are all words used to describe a nurse navigator, or a healthcare professional specially trained to help patients who are facing complex health issues such as a cancer diagnosis.
Covenant Health’s Thompson Cancer Survival Center offers patients helping hands, listening ears and caring hearts through its nurse navigator program. The nurse navigators help patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options, provide education, and assist in coordinating patient care.
A Helping Hand
Lucy Davis has been a nurse for four years and a nurse navigator at Thompson Cancer Survival Center since March 2018. Davis recalls watching her two grandparents go through cancer and remembers them talking fondly about their nurses and the care they received during a vulnerable time. She says their experiences made her want to become a nurse.
“I like to build relationships with my patients,” Davis says. “To support them and empower them through their cancer journey is the most rewarding part of my job.”
“It’s important for us to get them through treatment and keep them encouraged so they don’t give up; to make sure they understand why they’re receiving their treatments so they can get back to their lives and have best chance of survival.”
Caring Support When It’s Needed
Knoxville resident Rosetta Carter did not know what to do when she was diagnosed with cancer. Carter says her world froze, and her first thoughts were of her 15-year-old twin sons. Because she lost her mother to cancer as a young girl, she did not want her sons to go through the same suffering she endured as a child.
Carter was referred to Thompson Cancer Survival Center in 2018 where she received chemotherapy and radiation for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The multidisciplinary medical team that oversaw her treatment plan included Davis as Carter’s nurse navigator from the onset, and Davis connected Carter with local resources to help meet her specific needs.
“Miss Lucy gave me loving and caring support when I needed it to help me overcome my battle. When I felt ready to give up, she told me to take just one step at a time.”
Davis arranged for Carter to have transportation to and from cancer treatments and appointments, helped her get wigs when she faced hair loss, and connected her with cancer support groups.
“Miss Lucy reminded me that I wasn’t going through it alone. I couldn’t have gotten through it without her help. When I had doubts, she had faith. Every time I went to treatment, she was there.”
The words Carter would use to describe Davis are: “Life-saver and spirit-lifter.”
Join others in the Race Against Cancer
The Race Against Cancer, held annually to benefit the Thompson Cancer Survival Center Foundation, will take place on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. The 5K Walk/Run will be held at World’s Fair Park in downtown Knoxville and include a tribute to survivors at 2:15 p.m. before the race start at 3:00 p.m.
All race proceeds are used to fight cancer locally, and by focusing on prevention, early detection and education, we’re saving lives. The Thompson Cancer Survival Center Foundation funds the majority of the 13 nurse navigator positions throughout the Covenant Health system.