The only thing worse than receiving an abnormal mammogram result is going through the experience alone. Fortunately, patients at Southeast Georgia Health System have an ally in Nurse Navigator Karen Crosby, R.N., BSN.
If a radiologist finds anything unusual in your mammogram and you need a breast biopsy, Crosby is the first person you will meet. Serving as a liaison between patients, surgeons and breast care specialists, Crosby guides and supports patients and families through the process. If a biopsy reveals cancer, she is there to answer any questions and connects patients with a treatment team, schedules appointments and acts as an advocate for patients if they encounter any problems.
“Patients are really touched that someone will spend time with them and answer their questions. They know I’m always a resource for them,” Crosby says.
In addition to more than 20 years of nursing experience in oncology, surgery and critical care, Crosby believes her personal medical history carries a lot of weight with the Health System and with patients. “Patients look at me, a breast cancer survivor, and think, ‘If you’re okay, I’ll be okay.’”
One of her biggest responsibilities is reassuring patients as they wait on biopsy results.
“The majority of patients needing a biopsy automatically think they have breast cancer. I tell them, ‘Let’s take things one step at a time and wait for the diagnosis.’” If they do receive bad news, Crosby advises patients to live one day at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
Enhancing Awareness and Access
Crosby works with patients from all walks of life and from all over southeast Georgia. She also helps promote breast health and cancer awareness at community events. “Even without a family history of the disease, you can still get breast cancer. The risk increases with age, but young women get breast cancer, too. I wish women would take care of themselves and be consistent with their mammograms. Some physicians recommend annual screenings beginning at age 35. That, and knowing your breast, are important.”
Crosby explains that finances need not be an obstacle to breast care with the Health System’s Mammograms in Motion program. Funded by a grant from the Coastal Affiliate of Susan G. Komen grant and generous donations from the Southeast Georgia Health System Foundation, the Mammograms in Motion program covers 100% of the cost of imaging and biopsies for uninsured and low income individuals in Brantley, Camden, Glynn, Long and McIntosh counties. The program includes breast health education and outreach, screening mammograms, diagnostic breast work-up services, ultrasounds and stereotactic biopsies.
After six years as Nurse Navigator, Karen Crosby continues to find her job rewarding. She enjoys spending extra time with patients and advocating for them when they are at their most vulnerable. She describes herself as “very different” from a radiologist who focuses on the more technical aspects of care. “Some patients are too intimidated to speak with a radiologist. The Nurse Navigator looks at the whole picture, including the family or support system. I’m a survivor myself and I didn’t have this service. I know it makes a difference in the lives of our patients.”
Karen Crosby’s journey from patient to survivor has traveled full circle. She has not only gone on to survive breast cancer, but to thrive in her role as nurse navigator.
To learn more about breast care services offered at Southeast Georgia Health System, call 912-466-5234 or visit sghs.org/breasthealth.