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“Be a Little Like Lillie”: The Story of Lillie Bear

April 20, 2022 | AONN+ Blog
Featuring:
Mu Lin
Digital Content Writer
The Lynx Group

It was an “Aha” moment when Sharon Inzetta, an oncology nurse navigator at Summa Health, thought of a perfect way to name the comfort bear for their breast cancer program—it should be called Lillie Bear.

In addition to being soft and huggable, the Lillie bear serves an important therapeutic role to help with recovery after a breast cancer surgery. It can be used to splint the chest and encourage good posture and deep breathing, and it can be propped up under the arm to provide support.

The acronym LILLIE represents the way nurse navigators deliver care to their patients:

  • L - Listen to our patients
  • I - Inform and educate our patients
  • L - Learn with our patients
  • L - Leadership for our patients in their own care
  • I - Interdisciplinary and integrative care for our patients
  • E - Empower and excellence in care for our patients

This name was inspired by Sharon’s personal engagements with Lillie Shockney, a name well-known in the cancer field, especially in navigation, survivorship, patient-centered care, preservation of quality of life, end-of-life planning and care, improving the cancer patient’s experience and clinical outcomes.

A 2-time breast cancer survivor, originally diagnosed in her 30s, Lillie has worked tirelessly to improve the care of breast cancer patients around the world. In 2009, she co-founded the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN+), a national professional organization for those working in the navigation space with oncology patients.

Lillie clinically specializes in breast cancer care. Her public speaking, literary work, and the notable roles she has held over the past 40+ years are well-known to many people.

The Lillie Bear program of Summa Health—a health system in Ohio—was created to honor the leadership and the ongoing legacy Lillie Shockney has provided to navigators and patients who have come to know and love her. “Hearing her personal stories mixed with joy, humor, tears, and challenges surrounding survivorship were once again life- and career-changing,” Sharon said. “It was life-changing to know the impact of a navigator; to really reflect and challenge your role as to how you can, maybe, be just ‘a little like Lillie!’”

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