Patient navigators help to address and overcome barriers that you may face when getting care for metastatic breast cancer.

When you have metastatic breast cancer, a patient navigator can be an essential part of your team.

The healthcare system can be confusing and overwhelming. A patient navigator can support you throughout your cancer treatment and direct you to programs that may help you. They understand the healthcare system and can connect you with the people and services you need.

Depending on your clinic, there may be multiple types of patient navigators who specialize in different things.

You may work with nurse navigators who can help you to better understand treatments and testing. Other patient navigators can help you overcome barriers you may face when trying to access care. These might include lodging, transportation, financial concerns, and insurance.

Before you meet with a navigator, it’s important to think about what you need. Follow these steps to help you prepare to connect with a patient navigator and get the most from this service.

woman checking health stats on smart watchShare on Pinterest
1468167982 Emilija Manevska/Getty Images

Metastatic breast cancer and its treatments can cause many difficult side effects. If you’re living with pain, fatigue, nausea, or other symptoms, a nurse navigator can help. They can support you in finding ways to cope or refer you to other services that can help.

woman laying down on bed looking overwhelmedShare on Pinterest
Kseniya Ovchinnikova/Getty Images

Your emotional needs are important, too. A social worker patient navigator can link you with support groups, counseling, or other supports to help your mental health. They may be able to recommend supports for your loved ones too.

Share on Pinterest
Jordan Lye/Getty Images

Many people face barriers to getting the care they need. You may need help with finances and insurance or things like meals, transportation, and lodging. A patient navigator can help connect you with services that can help.

They’re also available to help sort out insurance and paperwork.

Share on Pinterest
Muhammad Safuan/Getty Images

If English is not your first language or you need extra support to make sure you receive culturally appropriate care, ask. There may be patient navigators who speak your first language or are more familiar with your culture.

A patient navigator may also be able to link you to services that better meet your language and cultural needs.

Share on Pinterest
Xavier Lorenzo/Getty Images

Self-advocacy is recognizing that you are an equally important member of your healthcare team. Your job is to ask questions, educate yourself about your options, and keep the team updated about how you’re feeling.

Speaking up about what you need can help your healthcare team, including your patient navigator, to best support you.

Share on Pinterest
Maskot/Getty Images

Many clinics have patient navigators who are part of the team. Some teams have multiple patient navigators who specialize in different aspects of cancer care. In some clinics, you will be connected with a patient navigator right away to assess your needs.

If you haven’t met with a patient navigator yet, ask a member of your healthcare team.

If there aren’t any patient navigators who are part of your team, you may need to ask for a referral. Your healthcare professional may be able to recommend a patient navigator service you can connect with.

You can also reach a patient navigator through the Susan G. Komen Foundation or the American Cancer Society’s program ACS CARES.

Share on Pinterest
Alex Walker/Getty Images

Make a list of your needs and questions. This can be helpful to guide the visits with your patient navigator.

Patient navigators are there to support you. Speak up and let them know what you need so they can best help you.

Share on Pinterest
Vera Vita/Getty Images

A patient navigator is an important part of your care team. Throughout your cancer treatment, your needs will change.

A patient navigator is there to support you. Stay in regular contact with your patient navigator so they can stay up to date with your health and needs.

A patient navigator can play an important role in your care when you have metastatic breast cancer. They often work in healthcare settings, but you can also access a patient navigator through other agencies.

A patient navigator can support you with a variety of physical, emotional, and daily needs.