Soon after my diagnosis, I got a phone call from someone who called herself a "Nurse Navigator". I scratched my head for a bit, since I was still grappling with the idea that I had cancer. I wasn't sure what the heck I needed a navigator for. I wasn't going to be sailing any time soon, I snickered.
However, this lady was persistent. She visited my surgeon, and he had a packet for me, jammed packed with brochures and information about pretty much everything he discussed with Larry and I, from a lumpectomy to double masectomies and breast reconstruction. She left her card in the folder, so I called her. I really wanted to know what exactly she 'navigated', because that's how my brain works.
My Nurse Navigator is there to help me with all of the ridiculously complicated aspects of breast cancer treatment, I learned. She is paid by the hospital to hold my hand, answer questions, even attend doctor's appointments with me. My first conversation with her was short, mostly because I was busy crying while she was talking.
But then she showed up at the hospital for one of my surgeries. And she brought me a goody bag, in addition to a pillow to use when I am wearing a seatbelt(yet another thing that I hadn't even thought about!)
I don't know if other cancer patients get a goody bag, but I hope that they do. I also hope that Nurse Navigators are available for other cancer patients in other hospitals. I'm lucky; I went through most of this when my husband was diagnosed with cancer back in 2000. I have a vague inkling about what my treatment will involve as my foundation. Other people don't have that, and they may not even realize how much they don't know. A Nurse Navigator can help with that. My Nurse Navigator has been very helpful, and more importantly, supportive. I need that.