Having breast cancer is a difficult journey. Every journey can use a strong guide.
For breast cancer patients at Springfield Regional Cancer Center, Tracy Adrian is that guide.
In her role as a Breast Health Navigator, Adrian, a registered nurse, takes patients through from the beginning to hopefully being able to ring the center’s signature bell to signal a recovery.
Care coordination is one of the navigator’s most important roles.
Once a diagnosis is given, Adrian helps patients through the steps, from getting in contact with a surgeon, making sure they have information about the experience, oncology, helping with appointments, assisting them through chemo or radiation and then for up to five years after becoming cancer-free.
“They do not feel alone or feel they’ve fallen through the cracks,” Adrian said.
A Radio Oncology Nurse, she’s worked as a navigator for a year-and-half.
“I want my role to grow,” she said. “This job tugs at my heart, and it’s very rewarding since we see patients every day.”
Juli Hickman was one of Adrian’s charges. After her diagnosis, Hickman found empathy from people like Adrian reassuring.
“She’s such a positive caring person who always has a smile. It was important because she always had an answer, never made me feel my questions were unimportant or my needs were irrelevant,” said Hickman, who overcame her breast cancer a year ago.
Adrian understands how frightening a positive diagnosis can be and patients’ thoughts often go to the absolute worst scenario. That’s where she keeps things positive so they can focus on ringing that bell.
She is vocal about breast health education and advises seeking early prevention as breast cancer can be very treatable if caught early. And with all the options available for detection, such as mobile mammogram screenings, it’s more convenient than ever.
Adrian added that even if diagnosed, treatments have come a long way with fewer side effects. Men can also get breast cancer.
“The mobile lab is a fantastic way to go. There is no good reason to not get screened,” Adrian said.
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