Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. You can have a stable income, health insurance, and a supportive family or be under supported and without primary insurance. Although every cancer diagnosis is not without hardships, it is safe to assume that the latter includes additional barriers. How do you get to your treatment without a car? How can you afford childcare to go and receive chemotherapy? How will you breakdown the language barrier to understand what the doctors are saying? The list can be endless.
This is where caring women like Evelyn Rosales come in. Evelyn, a Patient Navigator at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, TX, has dedicated her life to helping women obtain resources and overcome the obstacles of breast cancer. “Each day I see about 20-30 women,” says Evelyn. This includes helping women get signed up to come in for their mammograms, spending time counseling women on their diagnosis, and translating the findings to help women plan out the next steps in their treatment. “It can be very emotional,” says Evelyn of her time with the women. “Each day brings new surprises; mostly we try to smile a lot here so that women aren’t fearful.”
Each year, the National Breast Cancer Foundation gives approximately $970,000 in grants to support 24 Patient Navigators at partner hospitals across the U.S. “At Parkland, these grants help free the radiologist and gives us efficiency in our day to enable more patients.” This means that more women are being screened and ultimately, more lives are being saved. Additionally, Evelyn notes that the grants help her “develop an ongoing relationship with the Oncology clinic, nurses in other departments, and breast surgeons.” This has helped to allow women who have been diagnosed to see a surgeon in as little as two weeks!
Evelyn’s other accomplishments include reducing the time between a woman’s mammogram and a woman’s biopsy to only 15 days. Evelyn’s success stems from her unique ability to relate to the women who visit Parkland Hospital. It is all about “building a relationship before the biopsy,” she says. “I am able to get women to trust me, let me answer her questions, address her fears, discuss her options, and offer a hug… sometimes those ‘treatments’ are the best kind in the road to recovery.”
Patient Navigation is an integral part in a woman’s survival. Without this program, many underserved women would be lost during the process. Evelyn Rosales, as well as our other Patient Navigators, are part of the pathway to treatment and ultimately survival.