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A cancer diagnosis is overwhelming. Thanks to you, Patient Navigators can help guide cancer patients through the complex health system.

Facing a cancer diagnosis comes with many challenges. For those patients and families in rural Alberta who hear the words, “you have cancer,” navigating an often-complex health-care system adds a new layer of difficulties. How do they co-ordinate care between their local cancer centre with one in a bigger city? Is there a social worker available to talk about sensitive issues that will surely emerge? What if they need rehabilitation after a cancer surgery or treatment? At times, the questions are endless.

Fortunately, thanks to Alberta Cancer Foundation donors, patient navigators have been in existence since 2012 at the 15 regional and community cancer centres across Alberta. As registered nurses with specialized training in cancer care, patient navigators explain treatment choices and test results, and assist with the physical, practical and emotional challenges that come with a cancer diagnosis.

Our navigators improve the quality of life for patients and families and we need your help to ensure that this importance resource continues for Albertans.

Because of investments in the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Patient Navigator Program, rural patients and families who have used the program have reported that navigators contribute to a sense of stability and security, ensure timely access to information required for decision-making, co-ordinate additional supports in their communities and offer individualized care to meet specific areas of need. This program is estimated to save the health system at least $1 million by alleviating visits to family physicians and emergency rooms for non-emergent issues. This program was accessed over 15,000 times in 2015/2016.

"We’re finding the Alberta Cancer Foundation Patient Navigator Program is improving the cancer journey for those who live outside of the province’s two largest cities because these Albertans now have a dedicated support person in or near their community to help them with their specific cancer care needs."

- Dr. Linda Watson, Lead of Person Centred Care for AHS

The Alberta Cancer Foundation is also committed to a provincial Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Patient Navigator Program.  

Each year in Alberta, nearly 300 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in adolescent and young adults, aged 15-29 (AYAs). Falling between the dividing line of pediatrics and adults, this group of patients faces unique challenges. Unfortunately, those needs of AYA patients are often unmet. Not only can patients feel isolated, but without the proper supportive resources who truly understand their unique needs, they have nowhere to turn.

The AYA Patient Navigation program will specialize in supporting this group as they navigate their cancer journey both inside and outside the health-care system and will work to enhance overall patient care by ensuring that their distinctive needs are supported from diagnosis to survivorship/palliative care.

 

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