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Carol's Cancer Journey

“I hadn’t been to a doctor in nearly 30 years. I was scared after my breast cancer diagnosis following an emergency visit to the ER, but my nurse navigator reassured me and has been by my side every step of the way in my cancer journey.”

Carol, a 68-year-old Stage IV breast cancer fighter from Old Hickory, Tenn., hadn’t been to a doctor since her son was born, nearly 30 years ago. Carol is from a family that didn’t regularly visit physicians and had only three reasons in her mind why she might go: a broken bone, extreme pain or a lot of blood. A persistent lump in her breast didn’t meet her requirements, so she quietly ignored it, for six years.


Carol was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer on Friday, February 13, 2015. She had noticed a knot in her right breast for several years, but tried to ignore it. After several years, the knot grew so large that it could no longer be ignored. This prompted a visit to the emergency department at TriStar Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, Tenn.

The ER took care of her and referred her to a surgeon, which is where she met her nurse navigator. The tumor was too big to operate, so they discussed other options.

“I thought about walking out the door and dealing with my cancer at home. But then I realized that I wanted to live- I had an ocean I wanted to put my toes in. I had flowers I wanted to plant. That’s when I decided I was going to fight this cancer.”

Carol had excellent results from taking a new breast cancer medication and continues to improve. She takes two oral medications daily, a hormonal therapy drug and a newer FDA approved drug, a CDK 4/6 inhibitor. Carol visits her oncologist every three months for a check-up and scans. Her tumor continues to shrink and she continues to do well.

“Cancer is not the death sentence that it used to be. There are so many options for living now! My hope is that every person living with cancer has a nurse navigator like my friend, Brenda.”

“My dad died of cancer in 1986. They sure have come a long way in cancer treatment since then – I never wanted to go through what he went through. But I am feeling pretty good and was able to dip my toes in the ocean after all- what a wonderful experience!”

Carol is enjoying her life with a lot of support from family, church, friends and of course, her nurse navigator, Brenda.

"Cancer treatment can be expensive. Brenda has helped me navigate the financial aspect of my cancer journey and has filled out forms for me, made copies of bills and called resources for me. She’s been such an incredible help.”

“When I went to see the surgeon upon my diagnosis, my nurse navigator, Brenda, was there. She’s been there every step of the way for the past year- she’s my angel and my best friend. The best way to describe Brenda is it’s like having a big sister- but one that is a nurse and is knowledgeable about how the health system works. I can’t imagine going through this without her.”

Learn more about nurse navigation