Wife, Traveler and Nurse Navigator Patient
“I didn’t even know which doctor to go to next. Jessica picked up where the doctors left off.”
Nurse Navigator Was Her One Call for Care and Support
“Hearing a doctor say you have cancer is the shock of your life,” said Sandra Hewitt of Beaverton.
Sandra and her husband, Robert, had just finished a challenging two years after his diagnosis with another type of cancer in 2009. Retired to Wixom Lake eight years ago, the couple was settling back into their happy, 48-year life together when a regular mammogram found Sandra’s breast cancer in December 2011.
“After Bob was diagnosed, he had 140 appointments in two years,” she said, “Back then, we wondered who to go to, and how to find out everything we needed to know. It was just overwhelming.”
This time, Sandra found someone who could help: Breast Patient Nurse Navigator Jessica Fodrocy, R.N., B.S.N., C.B.P.N.-I.C., at MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland. After Sandra’s second mammogram, an ultrasound and a biopsy, she and Bob met with Breast Health Specialist James E. Reif, M.D., and then saw Jessica the same day.
“There was so much going on, and it all happened fast,” Sandra said. “It would have been a lot harder if I had gone home without the information she gave us in that meeting. I didn’t even know which doctor to go to next. Jessica picked up where the doctors left off.”
Over the next month, Sandra had blood tests, x-rays, an MRI, an EKG and a CT scan. On February 8, General Surgeon Kelly Wirsing, M.D., who specializes in breast disease and breast surgery, removed a small lump and eight nearby lymph nodes from Sandra’s breast. After she recovered from surgery, there were six and a half weeks of radiation treatments under the care of Radiation Oncologist Rajesh P. Kotecha, M.D. Sandra is working with Medical Oncologist Ahmed Abdel-Maksoud, M.D., on her remaining treatments. She will not require chemotherapy, but will take medication for five years and have twice-yearly infusions to prevent osteoporosis.
One Call for Any Need or Concern
Some of Sandra’s questions seemed too minor to contact a doctor, but she felt comfortable calling Jessica with any need or concern. “Never once did I feel I was interrupting her day. Often, she could tell me who I needed to talk to before I even asked the question,” she said, “and I found out some of my questions weren’t so trivial after all.”
Sandra craved information and did research online. She wanted to know what was happening to her and understand the reasons for making one decision over another. But what she found often didn’t make sense.
“There’s so much information out there,” she said. “Jessica filtered, condensed and simplified it and explained how it applied to me. The breast cancer awareness book she gave me became like a bible for understanding the disease, treatments, emotions and recovery. In time, I felt much better than when I was first diagnosed, like I’d gotten an education in breast cancer.”
Care Close to Home
Throughout Sandra’s diagnosis and treatment, she and Bob were glad to have care close to home at MidMichigan.
“We’ve been totally impressed with the MidMichigan process,” she said. “One thing I love is you can have a test with one doctor, and all your doctors can access your test results and patient charts. And the Medical Center is about 20 miles from the house, so Bob could go with me to all my tests and treatments. We did that together.”
Sandra says she feels wonderful right now, and while they both still have medical appointments, she and Bob take advantage of openings in their schedule to stay on the move. “We are on our sixth motor coach, and as long as we both feel up to it and our doctors agree, we plan to keep traveling.”
She also stays in touch with her breast patient nurse navigator and remains grateful for her help and advice. “She smoothes the way for everybody, patients and doctors,” she said, “I don’t know what I would have done without her.”
To learn more about MidMichigan’s breast health program, including the Breast Patient Nurse Navigator, visit www.midmichigan.org/breast. For a referral to a physician associated with MidMichigan’s breast health program, call MidMichigan Health Line toll-free at (800) 999-3199.
Fully accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), the breast health program at MidMichigan offers advanced technology and techniques, including image checker, digital mammography, breast MRI, and stereotactic breast biopsy. The Center is also accredited by Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology (ACR).