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Cancer navigation helps families in wake of loved one's diagnosis

Cancer treatment is often a difficult and painful time for the patient, but it can also be challenging for caregivers and family members. From determining the best course of treatment to attending appointments with multiple physicians to coping with the emotional stress of a diagnosis, the process can be overwhelming. That is where Piedmont’s Cancer Navigation program comes in.

Michelle Humphreys says Cancer Navigation made her father’s lung cancer treatment process much smoother for him, as well as for her mother and herself. Although the 79-year-old has since lost his battle with cancer, Humphreys says her father was comforted knowing his family had support during his treatment. “My dad was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer here at Piedmont Hospital,” she says. “He saw Dr. William Kenny in the pulmonologist’s office and they thought he had pneumonia, so they admitted him.

He had a biopsy and was then confirmed to have lung cancer.” Because he was weak when he was diagnosed, Humphreys’ father was not a candidate for chemotherapy. He underwent palliative radiation therapy with radiation oncologist Adam Nowlan, M.D. “When all of this was going on, it was a lot to digest,” says Humphreys.

To learn more about her father’s treatment options and timetable, she met with Arrington Leitch, the Piedmont Atlanta Hospital patient navigator. “I consulted with her, just to see what the next steps were scheduling-wise,” she explains. After her father was discharged from the hospital, her parents decided he would go to Piedmont Fayette Hospital for treatment, since it was closer to their home.

As Humphreys met with Leitch at the Atlanta campus, her parents met with Elaine Harbin, the patient navigator at Piedmont Fayette Hospital. “She would go and shadow my parents while they were down there to make sure they made it to their appointments and [to serve as] a support network for them,” she says. “My parents loved her. She was very comforting to them and it was nice to know that they had someone [at Fayette] who could help them when I couldn’t go.” Cancer patients often have to see multiple specialists to manage their treatment, whether they are undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of all three.

Navigators are there to help patients understand the process, which is especially helpful for elderly patients like her parents, says Humphreys. “It made a big difference having Elaine Harbin as the navigator down at Fayette,” she says. “For me, it was beneficial because I think I would have had to take off work or taken a leave of absence, just to make sure my parents were getting where they needed to go. Without the Cancer Center, specifically the cancer navigators, I think it would not have gone as seamlessly as it did. Having that support for them and for myself was valuable."

For more information on Cancer Navigation Services at Piedmont, contact:

  • Piedmont Atlanta Hospital
    patient navigator - Arrington Leitch, 404-425-7920
    Piedmont Fayette Hospital
    patient navigator - Elaine Harbin, 770-719-6098
    Piedmont Henry Hospital
    patient navigator - Karen Bouwman, 678-604-5984
    Piedmont Newnan Hospital
    patient navigator - Stephanie Martin, 678-378-0316

    Need to make an appointment with a Piedmont physician? Save time, book online.

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