Sometimes the support of a friend can be all one needs to push through a difficult situation. At Gordon Hospital, cancer care navigators provide that encouragement to cancer patients before, during, and even after their treatment. Christine Bond, RN, fulfills this role for breast cancer patients at the Harris Radiation Therapy Center.
A cancer care navigator is someone who coordinates a patients care and navigates them through their entire breast cancer journey. Christine is introduced to a patient when there is an abnormal finding with their mammogram or other breast image. She makes their next appointment, which is usually a biopsy, and she also assists the radiologist during this appointment. Once the patients treatment plan is set, whether it be surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of the three, Christine is by their side.
I make a personal connection with my patients and develop a relationship with them, said Christine. I always try to put myself in the patients shoes to help me anticipate what their needs and questions will be. Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a scary and distressing position to be in, so having someone for them to call on is important.
Jennifer Ponder, a former breast cancer patient, met Christine when she found out her mammogram was abnormal. When I received the abnormal mammogram and ultrasound results, I was, of course, scared and upset, said Jennifer. That is when I was introduced to Christine, and she truly helped ease my fears.
She was there for me during my biopsy and after it was confirmed that I had breast cancer, she helped me through my entire breast cancer journey. I love Christine and thank God for her. She knows exactly what to say, when to say it, and most importantly, how to say it.
Christine's passion for helping cancer patients is evident in her life's work. She worked as a certified oncology nurse for 20 years and has been a certified cancer care navigator for 5 years.
Working in outpatient chemotherapy, I became so attached to my patients, said Christine. Becoming a cancer care navigator where I would get to spend even more time with my patients was a natural transition for me.
Providing education and resources to breast cancer patients is one of Christine's main responsibilities as a cancer care navigator. Many patients don't know what to expect after they are diagnosed, and some have never even had a serious health issue. Christine is there to help them fill in the blanks and to be a listening ear.
Sometimes I get phone calls from patients who just want to talk, said Christine. They want someone to listen when they are feeling anxious. Being there to calm their fears is part of my job, and Ill be that person anytime they need me.
Harris Radiation Therapy Center offers many programs for cancer patients including a cancer and caregiver support group, exercise classes, and nutrition classes. They also host Beautiful You, a program dedicated to supporting women as they go through cancer treatment by nurturing body, mind, and spirit. Beautiful You provides patients with wigs and turbans free of charge to help patients feel more like themselves. Local Merle Norman representatives also do makeovers and donate makeup kits.
For a lot of women, losing their hair or their breast is like losing part of their identity, said Christine. The Beautiful You program helps with this tremendously. It's extremely rewarding to see a patient look in the mirror after a makeover or after they receive their wig. The small, human things make a difference. I am so proud of the programs we offer our cancer patients, and it wouldn't be possible without donations from the community.
Being a familiar face to breast cancer patients is Christine's top priority as a cancer care navigator. She's an advocate for her patients needs, and above all, she's a friend they can always count on.
My patients become my friends and family, said Christine. To be with them through every step of their journey and see the end result of them getting back to their lives as healthy and vibrant people is one of the most gratifying feelings I've ever experienced.