Meet Kathy Childers, RN! She is an oncology nurse navigator at Bon Secours Virginia Breast Center and is also a breast cancer survivor. In fact, it was her own diagnosis that was the driving force behind her entering nursing school and the oncology field with a focus on breast cancer patients.
Learn more about Kathy and her role with our ministry in this Q&A.
Q: Can you describe your role at Bon Secours?
A: As an oncology nurse navigator, I work specifically with breast cancer patients. I reach out to patients early in their diagnosis and follow them through their treatment and into survivorship. This is done virtually and occasionally in person.
Q: How has your past experience prepared you to handle the day-to-day challenges you face in your role?
A: Being a breast cancer survivor myself, it gives me a unique perspective of the fears and challenges these newly diagnosed patients face. I have worked in the breast cancer field for more than 14 years, and I can use my personal as well as work experience to provide these patients with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate their journey.
Q: Can you describe how your role changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: Although I did not serve on the frontlines in the hospital taking care of COVID-19 patients, I did continue to care for breast cancer patients by adapting and overcoming the extreme conditions and challenges brought on by the pandemic. I was willing and able to care for breast cancer patients who still needed caring, compassion and support from knowledgeable health care providers. I also realized at any time I could be called to assist in the hospital, and I was ready and willing to do this.
Q: Describe some of your main responsibilities throughout a given day.
A: My day consists of identifying newly diagnosed breast cancer patients through different modalities and then contacting them by phone to introduce myself and explain my role in their care. I educate and provide emotional support for these patients, as well as others that I have already established a relationship with. I often visit patients in the offices, hospitals or imaging centers to provide face-to-face contact. I perform many chart checks and phone calls to ensure that the patients are compliant and understanding of their care. I am also active in community outreach and education.
Q: What do you enjoy the most about your job?
A: What I love most about my job is developing lasting relationships with breast cancer patients. I enjoy teaching patients while helping them make informed decisions about their treatment. I also enjoy getting to know each individual and their unique circumstances because each patient has their own story.
Q: How have you seen the faith-based aspect of our ministry lived out?
A: Bon Secours does not turn any patient away who needs care. You can see the ministry of Bon Secours daily in its employees who provide compassionate care and “good help to those in need.” It is also common to see staff praying with patients and families.
Q: How do your team members support each other? What would you like to say to them?
A: Navigation is a fairly new concept at Bon Secours. We all communicate regularly with each other, providing experience and insight to help us develop our roles. We are a team who frequently meets via video chat to entertain new ideas and helpful suggestions that the entire team can benefit from. Our manager is also always willing to pitch in to get the job done.
Overall, the nurse navigators I work with are truly a dedicated and special group tasked with providing the best care to patients during a difficult time.
Q: How do you live life differently now having experienced everything you’ve gone through?
A: I have always wanted to be a nurse but felt a real calling after I finished my breast cancer treatment. My patients are my reason for getting up and working every day. They provide as much inspiration for me as I hope I can provide for them. I live each day to the fullest and give each day all of my energy. I can’t think of any other career that I would rather have. My job as an oncology nurse navigator is very fulfilling and rewarding.
Learn about the mammograms and breast health services we offer at Bon Secours.