Three words can change a person's life…you have cancer. What comes next is often a bit hazy as talk focuses on surgeries, chemotherapy and concern for the future. Alegent Health offers a free resource, nurse navigators, who form a unique bond with their patients.
Stacey Patzlaff plays the role of tour guide, showing Erin Anstey of Omaha the newly redone chemotherapy area at Immanuel Medical Center's Cancer Center. It's a place where both of them feel connected.
Nurses like Stacey with specialty training in oncology are available 24/7, free of charge to go to appointments, take notes, do whatever a patient needs. While Erin's mom and dad were with her for treatment, it was Stacey who provided the insight.
"I was supposed to have the answers and I didn't, Stacey did,” says mother Kathleen Anstey. “I couldn't help the way I wanted to help, but Stacey could."
“People say to us all the time how can you do this, but it really is for the patient,” says Stacey. “We build these great relationships with them and their families and I love what I do. It's great that we can get them through the worst times and be there for them."
Erin made it through 12 cycles of chemotherapy with Stacey by her side. She's cancer-free and goes back for checkups every three months. Her relationship with Stacey is far from over.
"I feel like she's my sister,” says Erin. "If we could just clone her and let everyone have her as a nurse navigator, that would be wonderful."