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How a Patient Navigator Can Help You

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Published on April 14, 2015

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer leaves most patients numb, afraid, confused, and full of questions. Why did this happen? Where do I go for help? What's next? Katie Brown, VP of Support and Survivorship Programs at LUNGevity, is a cancer survivor and Certified Patient Navigator. Patient Navigators function as guides for cancer patients and their families, partnering with them from diagnosis to treatment and beyond. Need help gathering information and support within your community? How about working out the details of your employment during chemo? Katie lets cancer patients know they are not alone.

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Transcript | How a Patient Navigator Can Help You

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

Hello.  I'm Andrew Schorr from Patient Power.  I'm sitting here with my new best friend, Katie Brown.  Katie is a vice president with LUNGevity, and she's a certified patient navigator.  

Katie Brown:

Right. 

Andrew Schorr:

What does that mean?  

Katie Brown:

Well, patient navigators are guides for patients.  They guide a patient through the difficult journey of getting to know what their diagnosis is, treatment options, resources in the community.  And we also provide information and support as well, kind of act as a bridge between the patient and the medical community. 

Andrew Schorr:

So when someone is diagnosed with lung cancer, the whole family, they are reeling. 

Katie Brown:

They are. 

Andrew Schorr:

Often terrified.  You've lived yourself.  Your father passed on, unfortunately, from lung cancer. And I know you're a cancer survivor yourself, so you certainly know this. 

So how can the navigator fill in? You know, you're going for all these different medical appointments, and you have financial worries, and you have future worries.  How does the navigator help?

Katie Brown:

Well, patient navigator is very different in each institution.  So they could be an oncology nurse, they could be a social worker, they could be lay people who are trained to be patient navigators.  And while your medical professionals are trained to take care of your side effects and the actual treatment that you're undergoing, a patient navigator can help you find legal, employment, financial resources. They can help you find support in the community.  They can help you find wigs.  They can help you find all kinds of psychosocial support.  And they can also help you understand some of the medical terminology that you're hearing maybe for the first time. 

Andrew Schorr:

You know, when someone is diagnosed with cancer, you and I both know this personally, you feel very alone.

Katie Brown:

Right. 

Andrew Schorr:

Even though with lung cancer, the most prevalent cancer, you know, well over 200,000 people in the U.S. diagnosed, you're not alone, and it sounds like you're not alone when it comes to support. 

Katie Brown:

You're not.  Lung cancer can be an isolating disease, and there are many communities out there that don't have support programs for people with lung cancer. So with the patient navigator, you are able to sort of walk side by side with somebody. And they can help explain it to you, and they can help build your support community. And with programs like Patient Power and with programs like HOPE Summit, they're able to learn more and become their own advocate. 

Andrew Schorr:

With LUNGevity, though, they can call.

Katie Brown:

They can absolutely call.  They can call us for information about lung cancer.  They can call for patient navigation.  We have a LifeLine program where we match survivors to patients and caregivers to other caregivers.  So they're truly not alone.  

Andrew Schorr:

So the doctors are telling us things are changing in lung cancer. 

Katie Brown:

Right. 

Andrew Schorr:

Not for everybody, but for many people there is truly hope.  And then you have a navigator who can help you figure things out as you hopefully get to a better place. 

Katie Brown:

Absolutely, it's all about hope, and it's about information, and information is power.

Andrew Schorr:

Okay.  Katie Brown, thank you for everything you and LUNGevity does. 

Katie Brown:

Thank you so much.  

Andrew Schorr:

I'm Andrew Schorr.  We'll talk a lot more about navigation, of course, in all our programs.  It's so important for you to know you are not alone, and there certainly is hope. 

Remember, knowledge can be the best medicine of all.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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