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.
CNN Spotlights Hospital's Patient Navigator
It isn’t every day that a rural healthcare facility like Mason General Hospital & Family of Clinics finds itself in the national spotlight, but that’s what happened in early April, when MGH&FC Patient Navigator Karry Trout BA,RT(R)(M), CBPN-IC, caught the eye of CNN Reporter Jackie Wilson.
Wilson was googling information about Patient Navigators, a current trend at hospitals that are working to create an environment where patient care is more personalized, when she found MGH&FC’s web video story about Trout and her 14 year-old daughter Ella, who suffers from the effects of a brain tumor.
The story intrigued Wilson and led to in an over-the-phone interview with Trout, which later resulted in a story on CNN about Trout’s work as a Breast Cancer Patient Navigator at MGH&FC.
MGH&FC’s Breast Cancer Navigation Program has operated for the past four years through funding from the Susan G. Komen Foundation - Puget Sound Affiliate, but the CNN story generated new interest in Trout’s work from viewers who commented about the story on Facebook and other social media.
“It was surprising that out of all the Patient Navigators out there, my name was the one that caught Wilson’s attention. I think it’s my daughter’s story that captures people’s hearts,” said Trout about the national coverage.
Trout answers women’s questions as they work through their cancer diagnosis and treatment options, and follows up after biopsies to make sure patients receive all the information and support they need to address cancer-related issues.
“My work allows me to have a personal connection with these women. We talk a lot, and in the end, the women come out as stronger people, and that helps me know that what I do is making a positive difference,” she said. See Trout’s personal story, below.
Despite Media Hype-Regular Mammograms Do Save Lives
Recently there has been a lot of confusion in the media regarding at what age women should begin having mammography screenings, and how often. The American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology continue, however, to recommend that all women begin breast cancer screenings at age 40, and repeat them annually as long as they are healthy.
This is the approach followed by MGH&FC’s Patient Navigator, Karry Trout, BA, RT(R)(M)CBPN-IC, and the rest of the Hospital’s mammography team including Mozell Snider, Jody Olsen, and Shawn Peters. All four women are Board Certified Radiological Technologists and Registered Mammographers.
The American College of Radiology website states, “According to the National Cancer Institute, since mammography screening became widespread in the early 1990’s, the U.S. breast cancer death rate, unchanged for the previous 50 years, has dropped well over 30 percent. Every major medical organization with expertise in breast cancer care, including the Society of Breast Imaging, continues to recommend that women begin receiving annual mammograms at age 40.”
Digital breast imaging – which is available at MGH – provides detailed scans of breast tissue which make mammograms the best way to discover breast irregularities, especially in younger women. Trout said that “belief they are free from risk” or “fear of the process” stops many women from having annual mammograms.
“The risk of breast cancer increases with age, and heredity is only responsible for 10 to 15% of cases. That’s the false sense of security women have – where there is no family history,” Trout added. She went on to say that women in their 20’s and 30’s should have clinical breast exams every three years and should practice breast self-awareness (BSA). By doing monthly BSA exams a woman knows what is normal for her own breasts and is able to recognize signs of change.
MGH&FC’s Diagnostic Imaging Department provides services for breast health that include screening and diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasounds, needle biopsies, and surgeries. Appointments are available at the Hospital Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and two Women’s Health Events are held annually with free screenings available to women who are uninsured or underinsured for mammograms. Appointments for screenings can be scheduled weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.by calling MGH&FC’s Diagnostic Imaging Department at (360) 427-9590.
Annual Women’s Health Event in May Successfully Serves Our Community
Once again, headed by patient Navigator Karry Trout, BA, RT(R)(M), MGH&FC hosted a successful FREE Women’s Health Event in May. Thanks to the financial support of the Karen Hilburn Breast and Cervical Cancer Fund (KHBCCF); the Washington Breast, Cervical and Colon Health Program; and Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Puget Sound, 35 women between the ages of 40 and 65 who are uninsured or underinsured for mammograms, received a free digital mammogram screening. “One of the women attending who, unfortunately, had never had a mammogram before, came in with symptoms of advanced breast cancer. Because of the serious nature of her situation, we were able to expedite her care that day, during the event”, said Karry. “We continue to see more women each time we host this event who have never had a mammogram. Fortunately, we rarely find cancer present.”
Some of the other free services offered at the event included blood pressure checks and diabetes testing, women’s health information on cervical cancers, and mini massages provided by volunteers from Kaleidescope Massage.
Debbie McGinnis, RN, screened 33 women for diabetes. Four of the women screened had elevated blood sugars and one had yet to be diagnosed with diabetes. “It was a very rewarding experience to help women who needed it. I am looking forward to organizing the Women’s Health Event again on October 19, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Karry added. “I would like to thank everyone for their support in May’s event. Their involvement made this event a great success and gave women in our community need access to the vital healthcare resources they needed.”
Only 5 to 10% of Breast Cancers are HereditaryWatch 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