American Cancer Society's Cancer Patient Navigator
In partnership with the American Cancer Society, the Swedish Cancer Institute offers an innovative patient-assistance program called the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator. This service complements the SCI’s full range of integrated cancer-care services, which helps link patients with vital cancerrelated resources in the community.
What Is a Patient Navigator?
The American Cancer Society Cancer Patient Navigator is a professional dedicated to helping cancer patients, families and caregivers navigate the many systems needed during diagnosis and treatment. The service has been in use at a handful of facilities throughout the nation, with Swedish as the first in Washington state to host the program.
Benefits of This Service
The patient navigator is available to:
Provide information and materials on coping with illness and treatment
Refer patients to support groups, classes and community resources, as appropriate
Help patients find resources for financial assistance, medication needs, home health care, transportation and other concerns
Help provide patient access to wigs, prosthesis and other cancer-related items
Identify activities that will help patients achieve better quality of life
Listen and help cancer survivors learn to self-navigate
Provide tours of the Swedish Cancer
About Our Navigator, Shannon Marsh
For Shannon Marsh, our American Cancer Society cancer resource navigator, helping newly diagnosed cancer patients navigate the often-confusing world that occurs after hearing the words “You have cancer” is a personal passion. Shannon’s aunt, grandmother, and great-grandmother all died of cancer by their early 40’s. Marsh herself had a rare cancer at the age of 12 and her father passed away from esophageal cancer at age 64. It was discovered, to no one’s surprise, that Shannon’s family inherited the BRCA2 mutation responsible for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
In 2000, Shannon began helping other women navigate through the tough decisions that come with learning you are at high risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Eventually, in 2003, Shannon left her career as a lawyer and decided to become a cancer research advocate at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center which she eventually left to care for her father, who was treated by Drs. Gold and Mehta here at Swedish.
Becoming a part of the Swedish Cancer Institute was very exciting for Shannon. “The care my father received at Swedish was exceptional and I am so happy to be able to assist patients along their cancer journey. The diagnosis itself is so overwhelming so if I can help connect patients with the resources they need, perhaps the journey will become more manageable.”
Guide to Breast Cancer Resources in the Community and at Swedish
Patient Navigator, Shannon Marsh reviews the breast cancer resources available in the Seattle community and at Swedish Cancer Institute.
Read the Transcript
Hello. My name is Shannon Marsh and I am the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator here at Swedish Cancer Institute. I have been asked to provide you with a guide to breast cancer resources in the community.
A breast cancer diagnosis can affect our lives far beyond what is physical. More and more resources have become available over time to support, sustain and reduce the distress patients, their friends and families endure.
As an American Cancer Society Patient Navigator, I connect people affected by cancer with the resources both within and outside of the Swedish Cancer Institute. In this podcast I will discuss a number of resources that you may want to tap into at some point before, during or after your treatment.
Following a cancer diagnosis, the amount of information and intense decision making is often overwhelming. It is important to learn about these options, but it is okay to pace yourself and take advantage of them when the time is right. I will provide my contact information at the end of the podcast so you can contact me at anytime during your cancer journey.
One of the first and biggest concerns for breast cancer patients and their families is the financial drain a diagnosis can bring. For those patients who are experiencing financial hardship and meet specific criteria, there is some assistance available through Swedish and other partnering non-profit organizations. Our oncology social work department can assist you with applications and give you additional recommendations. They can be reached at 206-540-0477.
Patients who are traveling long distances for treatment may also qualify for the American Cancer Society lodging program. This program is contingent upon availability and offers free or discounted hotel rooms for a limited number of nights to cancer patients and caregivers in need of short-term lodging. You can access this program and other transportation assistance programs through the Patient Navigator.
Another critical part of the cancer journey is emotional support. Some breast cancer patients and caregivers find they have enough support through their established community of family and friends. However, there are many people who find talking with other women who have had a similar experience with breast cancer very valuable. The Reach to Recovery program matches patients that are presently in treatment with survivors who have had similar surgeries and treatment plans. This program is accessible through the Patient Navigator.
The social work department at Swedish offers individual and family counseling as well as several support groups specific to breast cancer. The breast cancer support group meets twice a month and is for patients in active treatment, and the after breast cancer support group is for patients who have completed treatment. Cancer Lifeline and Gilda's Club are also excellent community resources that provide emotional and financial support and a wide array of classes for cancer patients.
There are many wonderful resources available to assist with the appearance related side-effects of cancer treatment as well. The American Cancer Society offers complimentary wigs as well as a beauty program that teaches techniques and skin care to women in active treatment. Patients receive a bag of beauty products at the end of each class. Please contact the Patient Navigator for an appointment. Mastectomy bras and prosthesis are also available at Swedish and in the Seattle community. If you are unable to find prosthesis at Swedish, you may contact Nordstrom's prosthesis department to set up an appointment for a bra fitting and prosthesis at 1-800-804-1502.
The Hereditary Cancer Clinic is available to Swedish patients. At the clinic, patients and family members meet with a board-certified genetic counselor who will review medical and family histories to determine whether genetic testing is appropriate as well as risks advantages and cost of genetic testing for hereditaty cancer.
Finally, the Cancer Education Center on A Floor West in Arnold Pavilion houses a comprehensive library and is staffed by a health education specialist who can assist you in getting your questions answered.
Thank you for listening to this podcast and please don't hesitate to contact me, the Patient Navigator, if you have any questions about the resources available along this journey. My phone number is 206-215-6557 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. My office is located in the Cancer Education Center. Thank you.