A Gentle Hand Guides Breast Cancer Patients

July 01, 2013
Amanda Rodriguez, RN
Amanda Rodriguez, RN, is Saint John's first breast cancer patient navigator.
A diagnosis of breast cancer is always difficult to hear. But with the help of a patient navigator, the experience doesn’t have to become overwhelming. Now patients at the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Saint John’s Health Center will be assisted in their journey by the hospital’s first such navigator, Amanda Rodriguez, RN.

The Patient Navigator Program was established from funds generated by the inaugural Power of Pink fundraising event. Held at Sony Studios on November 12, 2012, the Power of Pink event – highlighted by a commanding performance from Grammy Award-winning artist P!NK – was created to recognize and celebrate the strength of women who battle and beat breast cancer daily.

The patient navigator assesses the needs of each patient and serves as the patient’s advocate throughout the entire process, counseling and guiding the patient through difficult decisions and providing appropriate resources. Rodriguez has been a part of the Saint John’s team since 2007. Her commitment to patients with breast cancer is inspired by family members and friends who bravely fought the disease, she says. Her goal is to make her patients’ lives easier.

“Patients already have plenty to worry about,” Rodriguez says. “What I hope to provide is one person they can come to with their questions.”

“The program was launched because we know that being diagnosed with breast cancer is stressful,” says Maureen Chung, MD, director of the breast center. “Studies have shown that patients who have navigation while undergoing therapy are more likely to complete their treatment and do so in a shorter time frame. This translates into better patient outcomes. It is important that health care providers who treat breast cancer patients understand the importance of treating the whole person and not just the cancer.”