Topeka (WIBW) - A diagnosis of cancer can be overwhelming.
Not only is it emotional, a person is also thrown in to a whirlwind of medical obligations necessary to fight for his or her life.
At Cotton-O'Neil Cancer Center, it's nurse Katie Kaberline's job to help patients wade through those waters. She's a patient navigator.
Kaberline says patient navigators are there to provide support during a difficult time from the time of diagnosis until treatment begins.
The support can start with a basic calendar, helping keep track of where to be when. Some patients might have ten or more appointments in what's usually a two week window from diagnosis to starting treatment.
Depending on the diagnosis, Kaberline says patients may need PET scans, CT scans or MRIs; there is a lot of lab work to be done; patients may want a second opinion; and patients may need to consult with specialists and surgeons.
Patient navigators also help educate patients on what to expect during chemo. They also are there to listen.
"So much else is going on in their head," Kaberline says. "They're dealing with death. There is a possibility they may not survive this."
Kaberline says patient navigators can help patients get over the initial shock and move to the mindset that they are ready to fight.
She says their goal is to make the journey as comforting and easy as possible.