by Carole O’Toole, MS, and Erin Price Schabert, 2017
A common experience for people living with cancer – whether they are newly diagnosed, in treatment, dealing with a recurrence, or in survivorship – is the feeling of being overwhelmed by all the information given them and the multiple, often difficult decisions they must make. The healthcare system can be daunting when any of us is dealing with a routine health issue. But with cancer, it can feel nearly impossible to manage it all.
Fortunately, there are professionals whose job it is to help guide survivors and caregivers through the cancer maze. These individuals are called patient navigators.
What do patient navigators do?
Patient navigators work one-on-one with cancer survivors and their caregivers to help them manage their cancer care and best utilize the healthcare system to find the support they need. Navigators help to address many of the practical issues and physical barriers that may stand in the way of cancer survivors getting adequate and timely care. Navigation services might include helping you schedule appointments, giving you information about your diagnosis or what to expect with treatment, coordinating communication with your medical team, and connecting you with resources to help with financial, insurance, or logistical problems.