All-In to Fight Cancer proudly supports Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center’s Cancer Navigator Program, which is dedicated to improving the experience and outcomes of cancer patients. Donations for the cancer navigator program are facilitated by Novant Health Foundation Presbyterian Medical Center. We recently met with Kathy Brown, Development Manager, to learn more about the highly specialized and much-needed work they’re doing to better serve cancer patients.
Tell me about the role of the Novant Health Foundation. The Foundation is the fundraising entity for Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center and all its services, including the cancer navigator program. If you know of someone who has experienced cancer treatment at any time or place in the country, then you know that the experience can be like managing through turbulent waters without light or a compass. Locally, at Presbyterian Medical Center, cancer patients know and appreciate our extraordinary surgeons, physicians; technology and facilities, but cancer treatment is far more complex than the initial diagnoses and treatments. Cancer navigators (usually specialized oncology nurses) are a patient’s light through the entire journey – from diagnoses through initial treatments and then into cancer wellness programs. Cancer navigators educate, advocate, coordinate care, and facilitate referrals and appointments. They are links to community resources including local, state, and federal programs. And most importantly, navigators improve the cancer experience for each of their patients as they move through the entire cancer care journey. Presbyterian Medical Center’s Cancer Care believes that every patient deserves this highly personalized guidance at a particularly difficult time of life.
How has Presbyterian Medical Center’s Cancer Care evolved? We are continually identifying ways to improve the experience for our patients and their families. As one small, but significant example, after learning how difficult it is for breast cancer patients to get comfortable—either while sitting or lying down—we began providing specially designed pillows for those patients. Few of the cancer “wellness” programs like our Strides-to-Strength cancer rehab, counseling services or wigs for examples, are covered by insurance, but these services make a significant difference in a cancer patient’s journey. These are the types of services that All-In has supported – and that make a difference in our patients “wellness.”
How did Novant Health Foundation Presbyterian Medical Center begin working with All-In to Fight Cancer? It’s an interesting story. A few years ago, radiologist Shawn Quillin, along with a couple of other Novant Health physicians, attended the annual All-In to Fight Cancer Texas Hold’em fundraiser. He introduced us to All-In via our community engagement team. It started as a way for Novant Health to support All-In’s grass-root effort to fight cancer, and now we’ve come full circle. All-In is giving back to support us, and this year with a generous donation specifically earmarked for our cancer navigator program.
How do you put All-In donations to use? Through many ways, but this year, we are focusing on our cancer navigation program, which currently includes seven specially trained and educated cancer patient navigators. Currently the navigator team sees less than 50% of our patients. The check we just received from All-In will go towards adding another two navigator positions – making a huge difference in the number of patients we can assist going forward.
What’s next for the Navigator Program? We realize we have only scratched the surface, and to really serve our community, we ultimately need a team of 10 to 12 cancer navigators. We also want to ensure that all our cancer patients get into our cancer support services, which I refer to as cancer “wellness” programs. We offer rehab, counseling, and nutritional programs, but we want to do more. And I’m hopeful we’ll have that opportunity. All-In has given our program some attention, shedding light on it, and attracting more interest and donations – and we are so grateful!
What do you appreciate most about the work you’re able to do with the Foundation? A few years back, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and at the same time, I lost my dad. I believe those experiences give me a unique lens to see what patients and families go through together in their cancer journey; although certainly every situation is unique and different. By working within healthcare, I might be able to have greater influence to help put programs and services in place to make their journeys better. It’s gratifying to work where I have the opportunity to give back and make a real impact in the lives of those we serve through Presbyterian Medical Center and the greater Charlotte market.
How can people support the Cancer Navigator Program, facilitated by Novant Health Foundation Presbyterian Medical Center? They can call me at 704.384.4048 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Seriously, call me or visit novanthealth.org for more information. I would be overjoyed to serve as a liaison, to direct your donations to programs that are relevant and meaningful to you, including our Cancer Navigator Program.