Local nurses work to help women deal with breast cancer diagnoses

They are three of the scariest words to hear: "You have breast cancer." A group of local nurses is making it their job to help women deal with news.

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They are three of the scariest words to hear:  "You have breast cancer." A group of local nurses is making it their job to help women deal with news.

"We're there to act as an advocate, a guide, anything they might need to get through that journey," said Claudia Davis, Breast Health Navigator.

Davis was the driving force behind the breast navigation program. It matches a newly-diagnosed patient with a nurse navigator. Their job is to explain what’s ahead, answer any questions and offer emotional support.

"We can coordinate appointments. We can cut down on the wait time, cut down on some of the duplicate testing and just be there to support that patient as they go through their journey," Davis said.

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Cancer patients say that support is key.

"That very first day, I asked her why she did this job. I thought it was kind of a depressing job. I mean, you're working with terminal patients and she said I do it because our outcomes are good and I just knew I had the right team," said Dianna Degner, cancer survivor.

Degner said while medication and radiation helped her battle the disease, Claudia's role in her journey was just as big.

"Could I have done it? Yes. Would it have been as easy? No," Degner said.
In the end, when the cancer is gone, it's that friendship, that bond that prevails.

"It went from nurse navigator to guardian angel to one of my best friends," Degner said.

It's outcomes like that which keep Claudia so driven.

"I think, for me, it's just knowing that I’m helping that person along their journey. If I didn't think I was doing something to help them through it, I wouldn't, I couldn't do it," Davis said.

The Breast Navigation Program was started about five years ago. Claudia is one of four navigator nurses within the community network making a big difference for local women.

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