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A Roadmap to Cancer Care: Patient Navigation

Publication: Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne; Healthy Magazine, McAllen

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer is a life-changing event. Figuring out what’s next comes with its own set of challenges. What are my treatment options? What should I expect? Who will guide me through it? Traversing the many aspects of a cancer diagnosis and treatment can be daunting. 

Helping patients navigate their cancer journey is an important function of their care team. While some hospitals have one person serving as a patient navigator to guide patients through the process, Texas Oncology takes a team approach. By providing a system of support, our patients are guided by a team of caring experts – each playing an important role in surrounding patients with specialized support. That means a strong focus on communicating with patients and families, managing treatment and side effects, and providing guidance in areas not directly related to clinical care. It’s our way of helping navigate every aspect of care.

The navigation function plays a tremendous role in the patient experience. A care team’s goal is to ensure that patients and their family members understand their treatment options, know what to expect, and help them connect to and take advantage of helpful resources. Managing symptoms, providing emotional support, and providing transition into survivorship are also ways a care team helps patients. 

Patients can take steps to make the most of their partnership with the care team so the team can better help them navigate the journey.

Don’t shy away from questions. One of the most important things a patient can do is answer questions honestly and completely and ask questions openly, even when it feels uncomfortable.

Answering questions fully and honestly will help the care team better understand how the patient is feeling, how they are responding to treatment, and what support they may need. While a sign or symptom may not seem like a big deal to a patient, it can be important for an oncologist or care team to know.

It’s also important for patients to ask questions without fear. What you don’t know can cause fear and stress, so asking questions and addressing concerns directly can improve the patient experience and potentially head off complications.

Pay attention to how you feel.

Cancer can bring side effects and new symptoms. It’s important for patients to pay attention to how they feel and tell your care team. Our patients have access to around-the-clock care to give them and their families peace of mind and access to support and care at any time, day or night.

Share the journey.

Cancer can impact one’s life in countless ways. Emotional pressures, financial challenges, and lifestyle changes can be stressful and feel overwhelming. Other times, patients may feel strength and hope, or be inspired to help others or try new things. Through the good times and the difficult times, sharing the journey with family, friends, and the care team can be therapeutic and allows patients to feel supported.

When it comes to cancer care, our team has seen it all, but we know our patients haven’t. Each patient experiences cancer differently – it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. By providing a patient navigation model that ensures patients have a system of support from trusted experts, we’re able to create a roadmap to cancer care holistically designed to meet the needs of each person entrusted to our care. At Texas Oncology, no one takes the journey alone.

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