Nurse provides support to pancreatic cancer patient

Editor’s note: Nurses play a vital role for pancreatic cancer patients. In honor of National Nurses Week 2020 (May 6-12), we share this piece originally published last month to celebrate nurses on World Health Day.

“Nurses are the heart and soul of healthcare.” – Keeva, pancreatic cancer caregiver

On World Health Day, April 7, the World Health Organization (WHO) brings awareness to a global health issue, need or cause. This year’s campaign, in the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, is focused on celebrating the work of nurses and midwives and “the critical role they play in keeping the world healthy.”

Oncology nurses are a key part of a cancer patient’s healthcare team. In fact, many patients and their families feel a particularly strong connection with the nurses on their team.

This is especially true amidst coronavirus disease (COVID-19) concerns, which are putting all healthcare professionals to the test. Nurses are on the frontlines, interacting often with patients and their families.

For example, a caregiver recently contacted the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) Patient Services with concerns about COVID-19 and how it may affect her husband. Through that support, she learned that she needed to understand what their hospital and healthcare team’s policy was if her husband were to get sick. She called his oncology nurse, who explained all the steps she would need to take and what she needed to know.

At any time in a patient’s journey, nurses are excellent connections to ask questions about treatment, get tips or assistance with care and help you access support services or educational materials.

There are also a variety of nursing roles on an oncology team: oncology nurses, nurse practitioners or nurse navigators may provide patient care.

PanCAN Scientific & Medical Advisory Board member Hilary Turnberg, BSN, RN, highlighted the value of nurse navigators:

“The wide range of skills nurse navigators possess, their broad perspective on the complexity of the healthcare system, their resourcefulness and problem-solving skills, their interdisciplinary approach to care, and their ability to channel the voice of the patient throughout the care continuum are all invaluable.”

High quality healthcare is delivered by multidisciplinary teams with nurses at their heart

WHO has declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

Pancreatic cancer is a complex disease best evaluated by a team of specialists. PanCAN recommends consulting with a multidisciplinary team whenever possible. An ideal team would include expertise in:

This team will include nurses in many of these specialties.

Choosing a healthcare team of specialists that suits all of a patient’s physical, mental and emotional needs is the first piece of the Right Track model, which focuses on key steps any cancer patient should take to ensure the best treatment outcome.

In addition to selecting the “Right Team,” pancreatic cancer patients should get the “Right Tests” and “Right Treatment,” as well as share information at every step.

And having a support system of caregivers, family, friends, healthcare professionals and a patient advocate is important to address and manage the needs of the patient. Nurses are a key part of this support.

Today and every day, we are grateful to the nurses who care for pancreatic cancer patients, especially during these trying times. Your compassionate support and treatment, as well as the connection you make with patients and their families, truly make a difference.

Contact a Patient Central Associate
For more information about pancreatic cancer healthcare teams, the Right Track or anything else related to the disease, connect with PanCAN’s Patient Services.