Program aims to educate breast cancer patients
June 7th, 2013
Omaha, NE — Renee Johnson was diagnosed with B5IS stage zero breast cancer April 10. The 44-year-old therapist immediately leaned on her mother, a breast cancer survivor, and her husband for support, but found she needed more help when it came to understanding her ordeal.
“You hear cancer and everything just kind of slows down. It was terribly frightening and you don’t know what you’re dealing with,” she said.[audio:https://kvnonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Final_Breast_Cancer_Nav_Story1.mp3]
Johnson decided to call the Community Breast Health Navigator and Cancer Support Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The program, which is in its third year, trains volunteers to help breast cancer patients choose the best treatment options.
Dr. Edibaldo Silva, surgical oncologist/co-founder of the program, said navigators are trained for 20 weeks about the most recent medical advancements in breast cancer.
“The navigators are not only a second set of ears but an educated second set of ears that can really help the patient not only make the right decision, but the right decision for her,” he said.
Johnson said her navigator, Leslie Priebe, was more than just someone to bounce ideas off of.
“She cares and you can tell that she cares and is willing to help in any way that she can, which is huge when you’re going through something like this,” Johnson said.
Priebe, a former nurse at Immanuel Medical Center, says watching patients go home confused after a doctor’s visit motivated her to volunteer her time as a navigator.
“As soon as you get assigned a patient and start to hear their story you’re automatically invested in their life and just want to help them in any way that you can,” Priebe said. “She [Renee] has been able to help me because she’s the one that’s gone through the experience and been able to come back and tell me how it went with her. Hopefully I can use everything she’s taught me to help somebody in the future.”
Susan G. Komen Nebraska recently granted $66,717 to recruit and train more navigators through UNMC. Karen Daneu, executive director, says the program is great for breast cancer patients as they go through treatment.
“They really empower the women so that they can advocate for their own best breast health and make sure that they are knowledgeable about the latest and greatest choices that are available in breast cancer treatment,” Daneu said.
The Community Breast Health Navigator and Cancer Support Program is open to women living in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area. Services are free of charge.
For more information about the program, log on to www.nebraskabreasthealthnavigator.com.
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