- Associated Press - Sunday, September 20, 2015

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) - Carole Headen began her nursing career in Murfreesboro, circled north to Milwaukee, and landed back in Murfreesboro - a 360-degree journey to help Rutherford County-area women get the breast care they need.

Headen is the nurse navigator with Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital’s Center for Breast Health and a 1995 MTSU Nursing School graduate. Fresh out of school, she began her nursing career at now-Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital as a nurse on the medical/surgical/oncology floor. She knew then she had found her life’s work.

“From the very beginning, I loved my oncology patients,” Headen said. There, at another Ascension hospital, Columbia St. Mary’s Ozaukee, she saw first-hand the Nurse Navigator program in action and vowed to be a part of that type of program in Tennessee one day.

A nurse navigator comes alongside women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to provide support, education and guidance through the medical process of tests, biopsies, surgeries and after-care.

In 2008, Headen said, discussions about establishing the nurse navigator position at Saint Thomas Rutherford began, and because she already knew that’s what she wanted to do, Headen eagerly raised her hand to be a part of the effort.

Just one year later, the position was established at Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital’s Center for Breast Health, and now, every day, Headen connects with patients once they have a positive pathology for their breast biopsy. Over the past year, 682 diagnostic breast tests have been covered through the Power of Pink program, funded by Wine Around the Square. Four women who received Power of Pink-funded services were diagnosed with breast cancer during the past year.

“I call each patient immediately, and make sure they’ve talked with their doctors about their results. That’s the first step,” she says.

“I see patients the day of their biopsy, provide instructions for aftercare, watch for the test results, make sure the radiologist and the doctor know what’s going on, and stay in touch with the patients to be sure they have the results,” Headen said.

Headen said the main referring providers that utilize the POP funds come from the Saint Louise Clinic, the Primary Care and Hope Clinic and the Rutherford County Health Department.

She helps coordinate medical coverage for patients who access the Power of Pink funds. “To make our dollars go further, I refer patients to the Health Department to access the Tennessee Breast and Cervical program, which provides additional care, including referral to a surgeon and a biopsy, if necessary,” she said.

Headen said without the Power of Pink funds, “A lot more women would not get their mammograms, and they would wait and show up for medical care when they have a large mass or when the cancer may have spread. We are very thankful that most of the cancers we are diagnosing through the program, we are catching at Stage 0, 1 and 2, which are the earliest we can find.”

Headen said the best thing about raising money for this program is that “we are removing barriers”. Without the first step, a mammogram, you can’t catch breast cancer at the early stages, and then you have a much later stage that is hard to cure.

She advises both women and men to talk with their doctors about their health history and their family’s health history.

“Breast cancers can be hereditary and genetically related,” Headen said. “Talk to your health care provider about when to start your screenings. You may need to start earlier than age 40, the regular age for a baseline, if you have a significant family history.”

She also advises women and men to “know what’s normal for you. A self-examination is still the best way for knowing that. Skin or breast changes are all warning signs. We want women to get a mammogram every single year, and to adopt a healthy lifestyle, which means watching your weight, your alcohol intake and your diet, quitting tobacco use and being sure to get regular exercise.”

___

Information from: The Daily News Journal, http://www.dnj.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide