Friday 24 May, 2019

Cancer patients to benefit from newly launched online resource

From left Kimberly Badal, Co-founder & Executive Director Caribbean Cancer Research Initiative, Natalie Sabga, Founder John E Sabga Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer, Karen Gomez Antoine Breast Cancer Survivor and Advocate.

From left Kimberly Badal, Co-founder & Executive Director Caribbean Cancer Research Initiative, Natalie Sabga, Founder John E Sabga Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer, Karen Gomez Antoine Breast Cancer Survivor and Advocate.

On November 10, the Caribbean Cancer Research Initiative launched its Cancer Navigator Program, the first of its kind in the Caribbean dedicated to providing one-on-one support, education and guidance to those affected by cancer and their families. 

Executive Director, Kimberly Badal said she assessed patient needs in T&T and realised that a well-developed patient navigation program could meet these needs and improve the overall patient experience with cancer. Through funding from the Union of International Cancer Control they trained local persons in patient navigation at the end of August 2018 and then moved to set up this program. This service is now being offered for breast and pancreatic cancer in T&T, with expansion to other cancer types and islands soon. Through support from the John E. Sabga Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer, pancreatic cancer patients can access the service for free.

What is the program about?

Once you book an appointment with one of their navigators, after a needs assessment is complete, the navigator will work to help you through any barriers to care that you may be experiencing.

Here are some of the things that the navigator will assist you with:

  • Education about your diagnosis and treatment options 
  • Access to emotional and psychological support for patient and family  
  • Information about resources to assist you in your challenges  
  • Information on what to expect throughout the cancer journey including potential side effects and how to manage them
  • Information on nutrition
  • Tracking of your medical records electronically  
  • Troubleshooting barriers to care you may experience e.g childcare, transportation
  • Service discounts at our partner institutions

How to use the service

To book an appointment with a navigator go to www.ccrinitiative.com/cancernavigator. Each session is 30 minutes long and you can book as many 30-minute slots as needed. You can complete your appointment either over the phone or in-person.

You can use this service as frequently as you would like. It is recommended that you book with the same navigator that you began with as they would be familiar with your case. It is believed that the most critical times for navigation are upon diagnosis, before and after surgery and before and after treatment. During these times, there will be a lot of information that your navigator will go through with you, so it is recommended that you book one hour sessions.

Dr. Kavi Capildeo who presented at the launch indicated that currently, patient navigation duties are being done inadequately by nurses and doctors in public institutions, adding to an already full plate. He says the role is now being considered as separate and specialised by persons in the RHAs and the Ministry of Health and he hopes all entities can work together to bring this service to the public sector. 

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