For now Nelda Lozinski, cancer patient at The Scarborough Hospital, is happy to just be able to see the sun rise and the sun set. And while Nelda is focused on today, staff and physicians at TSH are focused on tomorrow to ensure the future of cancer care at the hospital is just as bright.
The 67-year old grandmother was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006, and is one of the thousands of patients who receive treatment through The Scarborough Hospital’s (TSH) Cancer Care Program.
However, the hospital envisions something more for the residents of Scarborough – an integrated Cancer Care Program that will streamline services, increase efficiency and improve access for patients with cancer.
Recently, the hospital has taken a major step in the right direction towards a brighter tomorrow for its cancer patients – Karen Craig, a Nurse Navigator, has joined the breast cancer team at TSH and plays a major role in providing patients and families with coordinated care, emotional support, education to assist in informed decision-making, and links to community resources.
According to Cancer Care Ontario, the incidence of breast cancer in women has risen significantly since screening mammography has become common and is detecting more cases. With more women, and some men, being diagnosed with breast cancer, ensuring these patients receive timely access to care, especially during the diagnostic phase, is imperative to determining and beginning treatment.
The Nurse Navigator helps connect the people and the pieces to create a seamless continuum of care for patients.
“The diagnostic process can be very frightening – it’s the fear of the unknown,” says Karen. “My job here is to pull the pieces together to ensure patients and families can receive timely access to medical care, emotional support and education – all in a formalized, individualized process.”
Karen currently works in the hospital’s clinics supporting patients who are meeting one of three surgeons to determine whether or not they require a breast biopsy to assist with diagnosis. She follows up with those who do to provide information that can help to alleviate some fears and help patients and their families understand what’s happening, and what’s next.
“The education piece is also very important,” says Karen. “Patients who understand their diagnosis and what it can mean for them and their families, goes a long way in helping them cope with how their lives are impacted by breast cancer.”
TSH already has an outstanding interprofessional team of health care professionals that provides excellent care to people living with a cancer diagnosis. The potential now lies in connecting the care to run more efficiently, educating the community on the quality of cancer care available in Scarborough and creating a larger, more pleasing space to continue supporting our patients in their health care journey.