Receiving Quality Support from Nurse Navigators During Breast Cancer


Having two supportive nurse navigators by my side during breast cancer made my experience much easier, especially when I wanted mental or physical support.

Image of people holding hands supportively.

Receiving support from nurse navigators — even just to talk — allowed Ginger to think more positively during breast cancer.

Diagnosed in 2011 with breast cancer after my routine annual mammogram, I was pretty sure of a positive reading when I was asked to come back in for the results. Before this mammogram, I would receive the “All Clear,” and good-to-go negative results via a letter in the mail.

I was accompanied by my family and nurse navigator, Jan Brown, from the Women’s Wellness Center at my local Hospital. I recall the doctor talking but I couldn’t hear the words — I only saw his mouth moving.

When his verbiage actually registered with my brain, I teared up along with my entire family. I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself, but the event brought up extremely sad memories of my dearest friend and neighbor, who had passed six years earlier from breast cancer. Unfortunately for my friend, nurse navigators hadn’t become part of the standard medical treatment locally at that time.

I’ve since learned from my friend and nurse navigator, Susann Burnett, that Dr. Harold Freemen is the father of patient navigation and is the primary person responsible for today’s nurse navigators.

Overall, I’ve never been a group joiner. I tend to seek out solutions on my own and move forward. But this was cancer, this was different, and I knew it, as I was raised to be independent from an early age. I was going to need all the support I could find. After my initial exam with the surgeon, nurse navigator, Jan Brown who was in attendance, gave me her business card and told me to contact her anytime I wanted to talk.

Independent, strong me; Ha, I phoned her the very next day, and she was there for me!

The utmost important topic here is nurse navigators. I was actually blessed with two spectacular nurse navigators assisting me in my breast cancer Journey: Jan Brown and Susann Burnett, RN, BS, CN, BN. These two women were/are God-sent in keeping me positive and moving forward during and after beating cancer.

Their verbal and physical support cannot be measured in mere words or numbers on a chart. After my surgery, I met my second nurse navigator, Susann Burnett. She actually opened the Women’s Wellness Center at the then Mission Hospital, Mission Viejo, CA as the Nurse Navigator in charge, in 2008.

From phone calls and emails to bi-monthly local group meetings, supporting myself and many others in breast cancer survivor walks/fundraisers, events and informational meetings, your nurse navigator(s) is a fundamental part of a cancer journey and shouldn’t commence, without her positive uplifting assistance, educational knowledge, overall mental and physical support and most importantly, friendship.

This post was written and submitted by Ginger Modiri. The article reflects the views of Modiri and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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