Nurse Navigator Helps Cancer Patients Make the Connection

The last year has been a challenging one for Bruce Metzger. At 71, the retired Thornville resident thought he’d be traveling the country with his wife, Anna – not battling lung cancer.

Cancer Nurse Navigator Ivy“This word ‘cancer’ was a brand new word to me,” Bruce Metzger said. “You hear other people have it and that they can die from it. That’s all you know, is that it’s this terrible disease.”

Yet, the Metzgers say what they’re going through could be a whole lot worse if not for the help and companionship of one person: Ivy O’ Neal, oncology nurse navigator at Fairfield Medical Center.

“She’s been there every step of the way,” said Bruce Metzger, who has undergone chemotherapy and radiation at FMC since his diagnosis.

O’Neal’s role is to guide cancer patients and their families through unfamiliar healthcare territory, educating them about their treatment plans, assisting with the processing of financial paperwork and providing emotional support.

“When you find out you have cancer, you feel like your life has come to a stop and everything after that is cancer,” O’Neal said. “So I try to encourage people to find a way to keep some normalcy between all those doctor appointments and treatments.”

The Metzgers said O’Neal’s accessibility during the past year is what has impressed them the most about her.

“Sometimes she calls us – we don’t have to call her,” Anna Metzger said. “When we were spending a lot of time at the hospital, sometimes we didn’t even have to ask for her – she came to us.”

Bruce Metzger agreed. “I’ve called her desk and she didn’t answer, and before I’d get to the couch in the other room, the phone would be ringing,” he said.

O’Neal said it means everything to know she can help a patient during a difficult time in his or her life.

“If I can help ease the pain or the suffering in any way, it makes me feel like I’ve been rewarded,” she said.

Tags: Cancer, ,