A ‘Lighthouse Through the Cancer Storm’

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A nurse navigator explains how people in their profession create bonds with their patients and guide them through the cancer experience.

When asked what the oncology nurse navigator profession means to her, Tammy Allred, RN, OCN, said that it completed her. For patients, Allred said that nurse navigators represent, “the lighthouse in the storm.”

Allred, who is an oncology nurse navigator at University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, was a finalist for CURE®’s 2022 Extraordinary Healer®award, and in a recent interview, expressed how thankful she was to be able to bond with patients and help them through the cancer experience.

“You build a bond, and that bond continues through their treatment,” she said.


(Becoming a nurse navigator) completed me. I was able to do things, to be with people, to help people. It's not like if you were in the hospital working or in a clinic where the patients come in and then they leave. They come in, (and ) you're able to support them. You build a bond, and that bond continues on through their treatment. Whether they're in the hospital and home, it doesn't matter you're they are your that constant person.

One patient asked me what a navigator was. And I said, “I'm the lighthouse in your storm — the cancer is your storm. And I'm the lighthouse and I will guide you through this.”

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