In a world of information just at your fingertips, finding your way through a cancer diagnosis is not something a person can “look up.”
“It’s so overwhelming to have a cancer diagnosis. People think ‘how am I ever going to do this? How am I going to balance my life, my treatment, my family?’ We are here to help patients through this,” said oncology nurse, Ann Salajka.
To be more specific, Salajka is a breast cancer nurse navigator. Her mission is to help guide her patients through cancer.
“I want to know who you are as a person so I can truly help you through this, because it is a journey. There are multiple steps, appointments, acronyms- I want to help patients understand what they are doing, why they are doing it and make sure they are comfortable when doing it.”
Salajka has the utmost respect for ins-and-outs of being an oncology nurse, and the emotions that come with it.
“You get to know people on a very deep level. There are many phases [patients] go through. We are always working to make sure we are incorporating the things that are important to them in their treatment so they feel heard throughout the journey,” Salajka said. “Patients can call us, text us, we focus on removing barriers as well as make sure they have the education they need.”
Whether it is going with a patient to an office visit, giving a hug or simply listening, nurse navigators answer the call.
“I tell myself I’m going to do everything I can for our patients. I know sometimes they feel like they are burdening their families with their thoughts, fears or worries. I want them to know they can bounce their thoughts off us,” said Salajka. “You can ask me anything. There’s no question too big or too small. I don’t know everything, so if you stump me, we will learn it together.”