Meet the Breast Health Nurse Navigator
Carolyn Cook, RN has been at Aiken Regional Medical Centers for over 20 years, and for the last several years has worked in radiation oncology at the Cancer Care Institute of Carolina (CCIC). She and others collaborated to develop the Breast Health Program to ensure special emphasis on patient support services. Carolyn’s support and guidance are available to all CCIC breast cancer patients and their family members.
You can rely on Carolyn Cook to:
- Aid recovery and rehabilitation planning before, during and after treatment
- Help you make informed decisions about your care, serving as an educator, advocate and guide
- Coordinate appointments with medical team members and facilitate their communication with physicians
- Teach you and your family members to manage side effects of treatment
- Provide you and your family with support services, including emotional support
“My involvement with breast patients actually begins before we know of a diagnosis. I track daily abnormal mammogram reports to ensure that follow-up appointments are scheduled in a timely fashion. When stereotactic biopsies are recommended, I am there for the patients during this stressful time. My role includes ‘communicator’ during the process due to the position of the patient, dressing the biopsy site afterwards, applying a cool-pad, and post-biopsy discharge education with patients and a family member. These patients are always told the most important part of my job is to pray for a benign report, which has always been welcomed!"
Each case is discussed at ARMC’s weekly tumor conference by physicians once the results are finalized from pathology to help determine the best possible care for each patient. Carolyn educates patients on what to expect and to answer any questions about treatments and/or surgery. Drain-care teaching is done if a mastectomy is scheduled. Patients are also referred to the boutique for a post-surgical camisole fitting. The camisoles, complete with drain pouches, make it safer and more convenient for post-op care.
Carolyn goes with patients during surgery preparation to help bring support. Patients are given a pillow for post-op use:
- To splint when coughing and/or sneezing
- When traveling, the chest seat belt is pulled across the pillow, not the surgical dressing, for comfort
- To elevate the arm
Patients receive an education packet along with contact information for Carolyn. If patients stay overnight, the navigator makes a post-op vsit to patients and their family to address any questions or concerns.
"I love offering hope, encouragement, and compassion to our breast patients. Sometimes these patients receive bad news and are overwhelmed trying to take in everything. The opportunity to be there for them and their family members is such a blessing. Many times they need me to just listen as they speak from their heart. I try to treat each patient as I would want to be treated if our roles were reversed - with the dignity and respect they deserve."