Editor’s note: National Nurses Week is May 6-12. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) thanks and celebrates the nurses who play a vital role in the treatment and care of pancreatic cancer patients.
Nurses are a critical part of the healthcare team that provides care and treatment for people facing pancreatic cancer. They bring a wide range of skills to the team and help implement the treatment plan prescribed by the doctor.
For patients and caregivers, nurses are not only strong advocates, they are also excellent resources when it comes to asking questions about treatment or getting tips or assistance with care, information about support services and educational materials.
Hilary Turnberg, RN, BSN, is a member of PanCAN’s Scientific & Medical Advisory Board and is a pancreatic cancer oncology nurse navigator at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. Oncology nurse navigators are professional registered nurses with oncology-specific clinical knowledge who offer assistance to patients and families to help them navigate the healthcare system.
Turnberg is on the frontline with pancreatic cancer patients and families, guiding them through next steps after diagnosis.
“The diagnosis, staging and treatment planning for patients with pancreas cancer is very complex, and patients are often overwhelmed,” Turnberg said. “I serve as a guide for the patient and I actively bridge communication between the various specialists involved.”
All nurses involved in pancreatic cancer patient care bring compassion, empathy and much knowledge to the patient’s multidisciplinary healthcare team. For Turnberg, this is what drew her to the field.
“Nursing provides a rich combination of skill requirements and opportunities,” she said. “Clinical judgment and critical thinking, technical and scientific knowledge, the advocacy and collaboration required to empower patients and caregivers, the collaboration across disciplines to improve patient experiences and outcomes, and the endless horizon of new science and approaches are all part of the nurse’s job.
“It’s an honor to be in this profession and to help enhance the wellness and quality of life for people in our care.”
You should feel comfortable and supported by your healthcare team. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network strongly recommends seeking a healthcare team that suits all of your physical, mental and emotional needs.