Alegent Health Nurse Navigators help oncology patients through treatment
Christi Lariviere would be content spending her days at home – playing and caring for her family. But for the past year, the 35-year-old Iowan’s time has been filled with a series of trips to Alegent Health Midlands Hospital, in Papillion, Nebraska.
“This is a full year of my life – every week,” she says.
Everything changed for Christi on September 24, 2010 – the day she found a lump in her breast. It was breast cancer – Stage 3.
“I had to prepare myself for the biopsy,” Christi says. “But I hadn’t thought anything past that.”
Rather than get mad or angry at her diagnosis, Christi got busy tackling cancer just like everything else in her life: head on. Her close friends and family pitched in, with Alegent Health Nurse Navigator Nicole Peterson leading the way.
“To be able to concentrate 100% on getting healthy has worked,” Christi says. “I’ve just had an enormous amount of support.”
“Basically, we’re just here to make things easier for the patient,” explains Nicole. “We help them navigate the system with Alegent Health.
That’s important because there are a lot of different hospitals and clinics, a lot of doctors, surgeons, general practitioners, oncologists. They don’t always know who to call.”
Nurse Navigators don’t take the place of the doctors, but they do help people like Christi get through treatment with as little stress as possible. They make appointments, take notes and coordinate care. You could say they’re the eyes and ears for cancer patients whose minds are often somewhere else.
“Knowing there’s someone to back you up, support you and keep you informed is a blessing because otherwise when you go into this, you don’t think straight,” says Diane Lucas, Christi's mom. “I can’t tell you everything that’s happened. It’s just a blur.”
Christi will hit a milestone this spring – she will finish her last big round of chemo. From then on its weekly treatments and close monitoring. Christi says she’s ready to get back to normal, but she knows she couldn’t have gone through this without her family and a nurse navigator named Nicole.
“She has become so much more than just part of my medical staff – she’s my friend.”