Carolinas HealthCare System
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Now What? The Role of Nurse Navigators

For more information about our nurse navigator program, contact Levine Cancer Institute at 704-355-2884.

Cassandra H. Horsley, RN, BSN, Lung Program Navigator

Nurse navigators have essential roles in guiding cancer patients through their cancer journey. This journey begins at the time of diagnosis and continues throughout treatment. While there is much support for cancer patients during the journey, they can be left feeling alone after it is complete.

Cancer survivorship begins at diagnosis and extends throughout a patient’s life. Although completing cancer treatment brings relief, there are many concerns and questions of how to get back to “normal." Follow-up care, managing the physical changes after treatment and support to deal with emotional symptoms are concerns that help survivors deal with the “what now."

Nurse navigators play an integral role in the survivorship journey. Establishing follow-up visits to address physical and emotional changes, and identifying new barriers and fears of recurrence reinforce the connection of navigators and survivors. The “what now” can be addressed by continuing a supportive environment that helps a survivor get back to normal.

Follow-up care is important for cancer survivors. Even though cancer treatment may be complete, there is often a continued feeling of loss of control. Following are questions patients and families can ask their healthcare providers to recapture a sense of control and become actively involved with healthcare choices. 

  • How long will it take me to recuperate and feel like myself again?
  • Which healthcare providers do I need to see?
  • How often should I follow up with my doctors?
  • What specific tests do I need and how often?
  • What symptoms should I report to my doctor?
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