Nurse navigators help cancer patients through their journey

EAU CLAIRE, Wisconsin (WEAU) — It takes a team to fight cancer. At Marshfield Clinic Health System, coaches are on hand to help patients on their cancer journey.

When Kong Xiong was told he had stage 4 cancer, he and his wife felt lost.

“We just didn’t know where to go,” Xiong said.

“With the treatment, we were financially concerned,” added Janny, Xiong’s wife.

The healthcare costs for a terminal diagnosis were beyond the wallet.

“We didn’t really know how to approach our kids,” Janny said.

“Kong was very emotional after hearing his diagnosis,” said Shayla Mattson, an oncology nurse navigator at Marshfield Clinic. “One of the big referrals we made right away was to an oncology social worker and she was able to get involved right away for emotional support and some coping.”

Mattson is part of a team that is making a monumental life change and making it a little easier to swallow.

“Part of my job is to lighten as many burdens as possible,” Mattson says. “Practical things like transportation, emotional support, posting resources for things like physical therapy, speech therapy, our dietician, our social worker who does a great job. Just making sure the patients have connections with all the other support members of our team.”

Kong and Janny found the most comfort in the CLIMB program, which helped explain cancer to their children, and the Dignity program, which allowed Kong to create a very special book to leave for his family.

“This book is very emotional for me,” Xiong said. “This is my life story for my children and my wife. One day when I am not there, my children will still be able to read this book and they will know exactly my thoughts, my journey through cancer and what it was like for me and my final thoughts for them.”

“In his own words, he was able to tell each of the children how he felt about them and they will always have this book with them,” Janny said.

It’s an enduring legacy, made possible with the support of a dedicated cancer team.

“Do not be afraid. Reach out. Contact them because they are there to help you,” Xiong said. “When you’re diagnosed with cancer, you don’t know which way to go because you’ve never been on this road. If they contact them, they will help you with this. ”

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