Helping patients navigate their way through a breast cancer diagnosis

It's the second Monday in October and News 18 is continuing its month long breast cancer awareness month series.

Posted: Oct. 8, 2018 7:05 PM
Updated: Oct. 10, 2018 8:58 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. WLFI) — It's the second Monday in October and News 18 is continuing its month long breast cancer awareness month series. Each Monday, thanks to our partners at IU Health Arnett, we will feature different breast cancer topics to help spread awareness.

This Monday we're diving into what it's like after a person receives their breast cancer diagnose. There's a person at the IU Health Cancer Center who is with you during every step of your journey through treatment. This nurse wants to help people win their fight against breast cancer.

"They didn't want breast cancer, but if they've got somebody who can help then that's what they need," said Nurse and Breast Cancer Patient Navigator Deidre Smith.

Once a person receives their breast cancer diagnosis, Smith steps in.

"I try to reassure them and find something positive in the diagnosis so they are more relaxed about the future," Smith said.

Smith helps her patients in four different areas. Fighting breast cancer requires radiology to make a diagnosis, a radiation oncologist to treat the cancer with radiation, "A surgeon to size the tumor and an oncologist to treat it with either chemo therapy or hormone medication," said Smith.

This process can get very complicated if you are trying to figure this all out on your own. So Smith makes sure patients don't feel lost and get their appointments in the right order at the right time.

"I'll be with them," Smith said. "I'll help them"

She is there to answer questions and even makes appointments. These doctors and treatment centers are located in medical buildings across Greater Lafayette and it can be overwhelming.

"We try to get their appointments in the beginning as quickly as we can," Smith added. "I meet with them the day that they get their biopsy results."

Smith encourages women to get screened for breast cancer during October. IU Health Arnett recommends women ages 40 years old and older be screened once a year and even earlier age if you have a family history of breast cancer.

During the patient's fight, Smith stays close in the beginning by going to her patient's first appointments and she tries to keep a close eye on her patients during their appointments as much as she can.

"But I have generally 35 patients I follow a month," said Smith. "I can't be as close to them the entire time."

Smith wants people to know a breast cancer diagnosis isn't a death sentence, especially if you are on top of your breast cancer screenings and if breast cancer is detected at an early stage.

"And so it's more of a chronic disease than something they're gonna die from tomorrow," Smith added.

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