Nurse navigators help cancer patients through their journey

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 7:19 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - It takes a team to fight cancer. At Marshfield Clinic Health System, there are coaches ready and waiting to help patients through their cancer journey.

When Kong Xiong was told he had Stage 4 cancer, he and his wife felt lost.

“We just didn’t know where to go,” said Xiong.

“With the treatment, we were worried financially,” added Xiong’s wife, Janny.

The cost of care for a terminal diagnosis went beyond the pocketbook.

“We didn’t really know how to approach our kids,” said Janny.

“Kong was very emotional after hearing his diagnosis,” said Shayla Mattson, an oncology nurse navigator at Marshfield Clinic. “One of the big referrals we made right away was to on oncology social worker and she was able to get involved right away for emotional support and some coping.”

Mattson is part of a team that takes a monumental life change and makes it a little easier to swallow.

“Part of my job is just to take as much of the burden off,” said Mattson. “Practical concerns like transportation, emotional support, placing resources for things like physical therapy, speech therapy, our dietician, our social worker who does an awesome job. Just making sure that the patients have connections to all of the other support members of our team.”

Kong and Janny found the most comfort in the CLIMB program, which helped explain cancer to their children, and the Dignity program, which allowed Kong to create a very special book to leave behind for his family.

“This book is very emotional for me,” said Xiong. “This is my life story to my kids and my wife. One day when I’m not here, my kids can still read through this book and they’ll know exactly my thoughts, my journey through cancer and what it was like for me and my final thoughts to them.”

“In his own words, he was able to tell each of the kids how he felt about them and they’ll always have this book to keep with them,” said Janny.

It’s a lasting legacy, made possible with the support of a dedicated cancer team.

“Don’t be afraid. Reach out. Reach out to them because they’re there to help you.,” said Xiong. “When you’re diagnosed with cancer you don’t know which way to go because you’ve never been down this road. Reaching out to them, they’ll help to guide you through this.”

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