Patient Navigation - A Program to Help Women Overcome Breast Cancer
Breast cancer can be a terrifying experience for a woman. Mason General Hospital & Family of Clinics (MGH&FC) has a Patient Navigation Program to help women through it. Karry Trout, BA, RT(R)(M)CBPN-IC is the program manager and Patient Navigator, and one of the first staff members a woman meets after initially learning she has breast cancer. Ms. Trout acts as the patient’s healthcare ally and advocate, helping her navigate the best possible journey through the healthcare system, connecting her with all of the support services available.
The Patient Navigation Program, which is still developing and works closely with outreach to the Hispanic community, consists of several support components. The Puget Sound Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure helped start this program in April of 2010. In April of 2011 the program received a second year of funding. “Already, we have documented cases of women who have greatly benefited from this service,” Trout said, adding, “I’m certain these women would not have had their mammogram or follow-up procedures without the program.”
MGH diagnoses over 30 cases of breast cancer annually, and offers different levels of support based on individual needs. Resources for financial assistance are available through the Washington Breast, Cervical and Colon Health Program and the Karen Hilburn Breast and Cervical Cancer Fund. Women can connect with other breast cancer survivors through the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery Program, among other local services.
“It’s amazing to see these women transform from feeling powerless over their disease to being a strong advocate for their own lives, and even turn their cancer experience into something positive. After winning their personal battle with cancer, many women want to help with cancer education, community awareness, and fundraising to join in the fight against breast cancer,” Trout said.
About MGH&FC's Patient Navigation Program
A breast cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. Patients at Mason General Hospital & Family of Clinics do not have to go through this experience alone. Since April 2010, Karry Trout BA, RT(R)(M)CBPN-IC has taken on the position of Patient Navigator, providing breast cancer patients with assistance that includes connecting these women to both medical and community resources, as well as to other breast cancer survivors. A patient navigator is a medical professional dedicated to guiding cancer patients and their caregivers through the medical maze of diagnostic and treatment options as well as removing obstacles to proper care.
Women's Health Event - Another Great Success!
Sponsored by the Washington Breast, Cervical & Colon Health Program; Susan G. Komen-Puget Sound; and the Karen Hilburn Breast & Cervical Cancer Fund, the Event was held in October, coinciding with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Karry Trout, RT(R)(M), Event organizer, and patient navigator for MGH&FC, said 48 women received free mammograms. “For many of these women, this is the only healthcare they receive annually,” she said. Twenty-one of the 48 women screened were repeats from the earlier events. “We are very pleased with the turnout and community support of this important Event,” said Karry. “Some women showed up as early as seven o’clock on Saturday morning to make sure they could be screened.” Free mammograms were available to women who were uninsured or underinsured. In addition to the mammo-graphy services, free diabetes testing, mini-massages, and blood pressure checks were offered as part of the Event.
“As always, our staff and volunteers did an amazing job,” Karry added. “The Event was successful from all counts, and we had a lot of positive feedback about the setting and flow – since it was held in our new, larger waiting area.”
Only 5 to 10% of Breast Cancers are HeriditaryWatch the Video
Don't Let a Lack of Insurance Stop You from getting a MammogramWatch the Video
Steps to Take to Minimize Breast CancerWatch the Video
Experience the power of digital storytelling. You can learn about three cancer survivors, including a personal story shared by MGH&FC staff member, Karry Trout BA, RT(R)(M)CBPN-IC who is also our Patient Navigator. View digital stories about Karry, Beth and Heather below.
Learn more about Karry as she shares her personal journeys leading to her current position as MGH&FC’s Patient Navigator.
Beth is the Mason/Thurston County volunteer coordinator for the American Cancer Society’s “Reach to Recovery” program. This program links breast cancer survivors with those recently diagnosed with breast cancer to offer information and support. See Beth’s story below.
Heather was a participant in MGH’s first annual Women’s Health Event in October 2009. Heather will gladly tell anyone that it saved her life – and she almost didn’t attend!
Women's Health Event Helped Save Heather's Life
If Mason General Hospital & Family of Clinics hadn’t hosted a Women’s Health Event last October, Heather Williams’ life might not be as happy today. It had been several years since her last mammogram, and she couldn’t afford to pay for another one, much less potential cancer treatments. When Heather learned of the Women’s Health Event held last October, and that it would provide free mammograms to qualifying women, a friend encouraged her to take advantage of the opportunity.
“I figured it was part of being a responsible mom, and grandma-to-be,” Heather recalled. She ended up really enjoying her visit. The friendly, helpful staff and volunteers offering free samples, complimentary food, gifts, and massages all made for a festive atmosphere. After her mammogram, Heather was called in for a follow-up exam – and then a biopsy. Out of approximately 30 women who underwent mammograms at Mason General’s Women’s Health Event, Heather was the only one who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Upon finding this out, she gave a tearful hug of thanks to the Hospital staff member who gave her that initial mammogram. “I wanted to let them know that what they are doing at the hospital is saving lives,” Heather explained.
Heather’s diagnosis led to surgery and radiation treatments during the past year. But she wasn’t going to quit. She goes on to say, “I told the radiation doctor, “cancer could take my parts, my life; but it couldn’t take my spirit”. I would laugh cancer in its face. Because, what’s the worst that could happen? I’ve asked Jesus to forgive me and stay in my heart, so if it was time to go to heaven, what could be sad about that?
Throughout her experience, Heather valued the care and support she received from family, friends, her church, and Hospital staff. Mason General also let her know about a program that would provide her free transportation to and from her radiation treatments.
Heather went on to say, “My final thoughts on this story are – first, I feel that God’s “special delivery” was that one and only free mammogram flyer from our (Hoodsport) clinic, given to me by a lady from church at our quilting session. Of the 30 women tested that day at MGH, I was the only one that had cancer. My Mom said, “Why did it have to be you? I said, you don't understand Mom, it was ‘for’ me. It had been many years since my last mammogram, maybe eight, and without the means of getting one and wondering how necessary it really was, there wasn’t much I could do about it, anyway. But the cancer I had would have kept growing and there would have been a much different outcome. Finding it at such an early stage, I didn't lose my hair or my breast, it didn't spread, and I didn't lose my life. I thank God for loving me enough to save me; I thank Mason General Hospital & Family of Clinics for offering free mammograms; and I thank Karen Hilburn, and the (Washington State) Breast and Cervical Cancer Fund. I am grateful for the Susan G. Komen cancer program that Karry Trout, RT(R)(M), Patient Navigator at MGH&FC will be working through at the Hospital. I also thank all my friends, neighbors, my church, and all the people that prayed for me here and at churches in other states.”
Breast Cancer MYTHS and FACTS
• MYTH: All breast lumps are cancerous.
• FACT: 8 out of 10 breast lumps are benign.
• MYTH: Only “old” women get breast cancer.
• FACT: 25% of women with breast cancer are younger than 50.
• MYTH: Most breast cancer is hereditary. You don’t need to worry if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer.
• FACT: Only about 5 to 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary.
• MYTH: There’s nothing you can do to prevent breast cancer.
• FACT: You can definitely minimize your risk of getting breast cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol, and getting regular exercise.
Breast Cancer Knows Few Boundaries
Since breast cancer knows few boundaries, it is one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers today. Everyone is potentially at risk, despite age, sex, or family history. Although rare, men can develop the deadly disease. Breast cancer is complex and unpredictable. To date, there is no cure.
- Breast cancer is the leading cancer among American women and second only to lung cancer in cancer deaths
- More than two million women currently living in the U.S. have been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer
Breast cancer is a type of cancer where cells in the breast tissue divide and grow without normal control. Like other cancers, breast cancer can spread throughout the body. Only a small fraction of breast cancer cases can be linked to genetics.
Who Gets Breast Cancer?
Anyone can get breast cancer – women and men – but the exact causes of breast cancer are not fully understood. Scientists have identified a number of risk factors that increase a person's chance of getting breast cancer.
- Females are at greatest risk for getting breast cancer
- Women aged 40 and older are at greatest risk for being diagnosed
- A small percentage of women under the age of 40 do develop breast cancer
- About 85 percent of all women diagnosed with breast cancer DO NOT have a family history
- Only about 10 - 15 percent of breast cancers occur because of inherited genetic traits
- Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen
- Race is not considered a factor for increased risk of breast cancer. However, rates of developing and dying from the disease differ among ethnic groups
- Women are less at risk of developing breast cancer if they eat a healthy diet and exercise
Early Detection & Treatment
Early detection is the key to surviving breast cancer. When breast cancer is diagnosed at its earliest stages, the five-year survival rate is over 95 percent.
- Mammograms are the best and most widely available breast cancer screening tool. They can detect about 85 percent of all breast cancers
- At age 40, women should begin to get annual mammograms
- Women should begin monthly breast self exams by age 20 and have a clinical breast exam at least every three years