A Day in the Life of a Breast Cancer Patient Navigator

In November I began my journey as a Community Patient Navigator here at Roswell Park. This position was created through a New York State (NYS) grant with the goal of increasing the number of women in NYS getting screened for breast cancer. For most women over 40, the recommended breast cancer screening is a yearly mammogram.

I work with organizations like Esperanza y Vida, the Buffalo/Niagara Witness Project and Jericho Road to receive names and phone numbers of local women who may have challenges preventing them from getting a mammogram. These barriers can include being uninsured or underinsured, transportation issues, language barriers, lack of childcare and more. I call these women to form a personal connection and explain that my mission is to help them get a mammogram because it could save their life.

The next stop in my navigation process is to identify which specific barriers to care we need to address. Some women are very forthcoming about their situations, but sometimes I need to dig a little deeper to really develop a trust that allows them to open up to me. No matter which specific barrier someone is dealing with, I connect them with the services necessary to remedy the situation. I then get them scheduled for a mammogram and follow up if they need to cancel or reschedule. My goal is to make sure those appointments happen.

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Most times, women are so grateful that we come to them and make the breast cancer screening process much easier. Recently, I connected with a woman who was very concerned that she had a lump but wasn’t sure what to do because she didn’t have adequate insurance. I felt so thankful that we were able to connect and I was able to guide her through the process to get her appointment scheduled. I’m thrilled to say that she got it checked out and fortunately everything is just fine!

I love my job because of the patients. The women I spend my days talking to are so inspiring and appreciative. I try to put myself in their shoes and I understand their difficult situations. They often know how important their health is but truly don’t have the resources to take action. I can provide those resources, but even better, I get to hear touching stories of their kids and grandkids in return! I’m passionate about breast cancer screening and love that I get to help women take control of their health.