“When you hear ‘cancer’ you stop hearing everything else. I’m here to (help) that.” These are the reassuring words of Caitlin Conaway, an oncology nurse manager from Upper Valley Medical Center, part of Premier Health.

The nurse navigator is available to patients to help with whatever is needed. “I can go to appointments as a second set of ears,” says Conaway. The nurse navigator can also help sort out the sometimes-confusing array of treatments and appointments that are now part of their lives. “Patients may need help navigating through appointments, making sure they do them in the right order.”

These experts can assist the patient with whatever they need. Some people need help with navigating financial resources and figuring out transportation. Others need emotional support as the process moves along. “People are relieved to know there’s one person they can call,” says Conaway.

Additionally, Premier Health is able to draw on its relationship with MD Anderson Cancer Network to make sure all parties have the most up-to-date information. Doctors can do peer-to-peer consultations to get a second opinion on a case without the patient needing to leave town. The nurse navigators also receive education monthly to continue to build the knowledge necessary to be effective advocates and support for their patients.

Building relationships with your cancer care team is essential for the best possible outcome for each patient. Tricia Tobe is the clinical director and interim executive director of the oncology service line at Kettering Health Network. She lauds the holistic approach from Kettering, which focuses on mind, body and spirit. In addition to medical care, patients can access educational opportunities, support groups and integrated medicine, including reflexology, imagery, yoga and art classes.

Tobe says that studies have shown that holistic treatment options like these produce better outcomes, with fewer readmissions and fewer emergency room visits. To further assist patients, Kettering offers extended hours (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.) at both their infusion centers and their phone support lines, which are staffed by medical assistants and registered nurses. This means that patients receiving treatment don’t have to rely on a visit to the ER if they are experiencing unexpected symptoms or have questions. They have the option of speaking to an expert or visiting the infusion center for additional care when needed.

The journey through cancer treatment can be a difficult and frightening one. Fortunately, those in the Dayton area have many options for supportive, comprehensive care with people who are focused on helping the patient through the journey.

“With cancer you can go anywhere,” says Tobe. “You have to have faith and trust in your team.” With the support available in our area, patients are sure to find a cancer care team that puts them at ease.