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New program to help breast cancer patients in the Big Country

By Jennifer Kendall
Published On: Feb 27 2014 09:12:14 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 28 2014 12:28:57 AM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

The Nurse Navigation program, which helps breast cancer patients, is the first of its kind in the Abilene area.

It takes place at the Hendrick Breast Institute at Hendrick Medical Center, but you don't have to be a patient of Hendrick to participate in it.

"I was sent directly from the doctor’s office to get a mammogram and it was confirmed as breast-cancer," said Joyce Daffern who was diagnosed with breast cancer in November.

It wasn't long after her diagnosis that Nurse Navigator Heather Guest stepped in.

"Once a patient receives a diagnosis of breast cancer then the clinical nurse navigator actually takes the patient and goes with them throughout their whole journey," said nurse navigator Heather Guest.

Daffern said a usually scary situation was a bit less intimidating with Guest's help.

"I have a wonderful support family and Heather is now part of my family. And she's my cheerleader. She keeps me encouraged and goes with me to appointments and kind of gives me a heads up of what's going on," said Daffern.

Guest explained the process of surgery, chemo, and radiation to Daffern. She also went to Daffern's appointments and showed her resources to help her through the treatment process.

"Everybody needs somebody who knows what's going on," Daffern said.

The program gave Daffern and her family the support they needed to get through chemo.

"We've involved the whole family because it's a family battle and were all in it together. We got our combat boots on and we’re all fighting and Heather’s there fighting with us," Daffern said.

"This job in nursing is not like any other job in nursing. You get instant gratification for what you do for the patients and you can tell they appreciate what you do, but I get just as much from them as they get from me," Guest said.

There are currently 35 patients enrolled in the nurse navigation program. The program is free of cost.

To find out more call 325-670-4673 (HOPE).