Navigator Program Helps Cancer Patients Through Treatment Journey

HYANNIS – Cape Cod Healthcare has created a new RN Navigator program to help patients as they take steps to detect and treat cancer.

Oncology Patient Navigator Joan Macallister said she assists people on their treatment journeys from the first detection of something suspicious to receiving cancer care at the Davenport-Mugar Cancer Center in Hyannis.

She noted it can be difficult for people to focus during appointments after learning they may have cancer, so the navigator can provide patients with extra resources during the uncertain time.

“To be able to have a person who’s dedicated to bring you on that journey to get you where you need to be in an expedited fashion really can change the trajectory of your cancer journey,” Macallister said.

She added she helps patients understand what their next steps are and supports them through that process.

Macallister said the pathway and timeline for patients from first detection to seeing an oncologist was varied, so the program was launched to help identify where the gaps were in that journey.

Cape Cod Hospital’s lung nodule screening program also created a need for the navigator role with its focus on early detection.

Macallister is currently the only navigator of the pilot program. Her work is specially focused on thoracic (lung) cancer and head and neck cancers.

She said patients who have concerning nodules on their lungs are still eligible for the program even if they may not need radiation because the program aims to identify lung cancer at an early stage.

Macallister said she also works with patients to identify needs like transportation and if they require  additional medical services.

She said that Cape Cod Healthcare doctors have been referring patients. Primary care physicians and specialists who are seeking assistance in getting patients expedited care have also been reaching out to her.

Listen to the full Sunday Journal with Joan Macallister.

By Brian Engles, NewsCenter

About Brian Engles

Brian Engles is a longtime local of the Cape. He studied Film & TV at Boston University and in addition to his role at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, he also works as a music instructor and records original songs.
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