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Patient Advocacy/Empowerment

When someone has just heard in the last day or so that they have cancer, their life is in a tailspin. So when I ask a patient, “Before you heard that you had cancer, what were your life goals?” commonly the response is, “It doesn’t matter what they were. Just please save my life.” But it does matter, because we should be striving to incorporate those life goals into the patient’s treatment planning process.
Commonly, when someone hears the words “you have cancer,” their mind can focus on nothing else. The world promptly begins to spin out of control. They are no longer thinking about what was on their to-do list today, or this week, or this month for that matter.
There are various points along the journey that we, as nurse navigators, need to be at the side of our patients when critical treatment decisions are being made. This is something that you do every day, and are more than familiar with regarding your role in education and support as it relates to this type of decision making.
Commonly when a breast cancer nurse navigator is educating and supporting a patient, the time period is focused on the point of diagnosis through their acute treatment. How do we really know if the patients, now as survivors, believe the right decisions were made regarding treatment options? How do we know they felt the decisions were made with their active input? Were they confident in their choices?
It is interesting to read or see opposing views on an issue in medical care. Healthcare professionals do a wonderful job on quoting facts and research findings. What is normally missing is the voice of the patient.

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