Navigating Cancer Care at the Hospital with Moral Support

When a person is diagnosed with cancer, taking the next steps is overwhelming in the midst of physical and emotional pain. That’s where the role of the Cancer Patient Navigator comes in, said Carolyn Henry, Care Manager for the Bow Valley Cancer Centre. 

“You have the role of being a case manager for them,” said Henry, an RN and community care nurse who previously worked as Cancer Patient Navigator. 

The navigator is “really being the person that they call” for all aspects of a patient’s experience, including “emotional and spiritual support,” said Henry.  

Henry, who has worked at the Canmore General Hospital since 2013, said the team has grown to include two nurses devoted part-time to the unit, as well as three casual nurses and a unit clerk.  

The Canmore and Area Health Care Foundation has supported cancer care at the Canmore General Hospital for years. Beyond the expansion of and improvements to the cancer care unit, the foundation provides ongoing funding to programs for cancer patients and their families, including yoga, mindfulness and support groups. For patients going through treatment, Henry said it’s hard for them to stop thinking about their diagnosis.   

“Those programs allow them to have time to learn how to have a break from their cancer with people who understand what they’re going through,” said Henry. “I think those activities bring people together in the community who are sharing the same thing.” 

When patients or family members ask the hospital staff how they can contribute to continued programming for cancer patients in the Bow Valley, Henry tells them about the foundation. For her part, Henry is a devoted champion of the CAHCF, donating money from each pay cheque directly to the foundation.  

“It’s really great to see that they are really working hard to make a difference in the cancer client’s journey,” said Henry of the foundation’s support. “It does make a difference. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to provide those amazing programs that help a lot.” 

Beyond programming, the CAHCF pays for medical staff – including nurses, physicians and pharmacists – to attend national and international conferences to stay up-to-date on cancer treatments and medications. This, said Henry, is an important part of staff providing the best and most current care for cancer patients. 

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Carolyn Henry, an RN and community care nurse, manages the cancer unit staff at the Canmore General Hospital. The CAHCF plays a large role in ongoing training and paying conference fees for staff to stay up-to-date on treatments and medications. 

ken Pillipow