This article appears in the October 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
Editor's note: This piece is an excerpt from a full case study that is available as part of an upcoming Rounds Event, Cancer Service Line Leadership: Baylor Health Care System.
Cynthia Robinson-Hawkins, RN, remembers when she got her cancer diagnosis 23 years ago. She was a labor and delivery nurse at the time and even with her clinical training, was just as unprepared as any patient. "I didn't know anything about cancer and all of sudden you hear ‘The Big C.' You have cancer," she says. "I didn't know where to go, what was going to happen, or who was going to do what. I didn't know anything."
That experience is not unusual even today in cancer treatment, which can be a disconnected, confusing chain of appointments, tests, and results that can quickly overwhelm a cancer patient. Now in her role as manager of the patient navigation program at the Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center at Dallas, Robinson-Hawkins wants patients to be focused only on beating cancer, not on fighting through the treatment itself.
"I tell patients that they should not be worried about who, what, when, where, and how," she says. "They should be focusing on their cancer and getting well because we all know that the stress of cancer or the stress of trying to figure out where to go and what to do is not helping you overcome your disease."