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Patients Get Personalized Pampering at Stanford Cancer Center

"I feel positive and relaxed, because there will always be support waiting for me." Catherine Sleight

Photo: Neale Mulligan

By Mignon Fogarty

Entering the Stanford Cancer Center, the first thing you’re likely to notice is the bright, spacious lobby and the circular welcome desk. Chances are there will be a person behind the desk—a smiling patient navigator, specially trained to help to guide you through your experience. The navigators are the first contact for a wide range of personal services available to patients and their families.

Patient Navigators and Cancer Supportive Care Program: Helping every step of the way

“The navigator volunteers make a special point of meeting people when they arrive at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, helping them find their way, getting them to therapy and answering questions,” says Catherine Sleight, a Stanford patient.

Patient navigators are specially-trained volunteer ambassadors who provide the utmost in hospitality and customer service. Navigators personally accompany patients and families, taking them to and from appointments and providing them with information and resources.

For example, navigators roam the hallways, offering beverages, newspapers and magazines, and providing a friendly ear. They may also drive people in the tram to appointments, find housing and restaurants for people from out of town, play games with patients while they are receiving infusion therapy, or find a wig or scarf for a chemotherapy patient.

Navigators are only the beginning of what the Cancer Navigation program offers. “It’s about complete care — strength for your body, mind and spirit. I’m amazed by Cancer Supportive Care and the variety of programs and resources. These services have become a very important part of my Stanford treatment,” says Sue Lubais, a Stanford patient.

“The center gives us the opportunity to collaborate and work as a team on behalf of our patients. It’s designed to focus on the patient, and this service is part of that focus. We aim to offer continuity of care to patients and personalized attention throughout their experience at Stanford,” says Holly Gautier, RN, director of Cancer Supportive Care Program.

Patient Advocates: Taking the mystery out of the system

Patient advocates help coordinate the services of nurses, dietitians, social workers, psychologists, financial counselors and administrative staff. They also provide educational and emotional support during the difficult decision-making period and throughout the treatment process.

“It is a great comfort to have people who understand the ‘ins and outs’ of the system, they take time to explain things, and offer personalized support,” says Steve Miller, a Stanford patient and cancer survivor.

The advocates also can help patients make appointments, accompany them during their clinical visits, and help them access their medical records. “The team helped take the unknown out of the whole process, and this was of enormous help to me and my family,” adds Miller.

Cancer Supportive Care Program: Ongoing healing

While the navigators and patient advocates help patients and their families with their day-to-day needs in the center, the Cancer Supportive Care Program extends into an ongoing role, providing a bridge between medical services and other aspects of healing.“Healing is about keeping strong, mentally and emotionally,” says Lubais, “And making sure my whole person is the best it can be.”

Patients and their families can choose from a wide variety of therapies, workshops, support groups and activities — nutritional consultation, chair massage, restorative yoga, art and imagery, and many others.

Sleight still remembers the first class she attended — a restorative yoga class. “What an incredible sense of release it was just to relax for an hour. It was the first time in so long that I had felt at ease,” she says. “After my wonderful experience with yoga, I went on to try guided imagery, writing, exercise and nutritional classes. Each one provided me with a special time to focus on my healing.”


For more information, please call (650) 725-9456 or visit Cancer Supportive Care Program.


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