A program at the Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center Breast Center is bringing hope and comfort to breast cancer patients…every step of the way.

It’s called the Nurse Navigator Program, which started in 2012 and helps provide breast cancer patients with valuable information in order for them to make the best treatment choice. Navigators will assist patients with the care and compassion often needed in a complicated medical framework.

“As an oncology nurse, I enjoy helping the patients get through all of the decision-making and information that is thrown at them,” says Maxine Salsedo, nurse navigator. “It’s very satisfying to be a part of that and guide them through their journey.” Salsedo has spent 30 years as an oncology nurse and started with the Nurse Navigator Program in April.

In 2013, Los Robles’ Breast Center also became the first nationally accredited breast center in Ventura County by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Center. Currently, there are two active nurses in the Nurse Navigator Program.

“The best thing about a breast center approach is you have the benefit of a multidisciplinary team of specialists guiding you with the same passion for success that help you along the way in one program so that you know that they stand by 26 rigorous standards,” says Cathy Cole, lead nurse navigator, in an online video. “I think the best thing is that there are multiple specialists who discuss complex treatment strategies about patient care all in one place.”

For patients in survivorship, Salsedo says that nurses will help patients deal with emotional challenges, such as intimacy, anxiety, returning to work and staying on top of their mammogram and oncology visits. To date, more than 300 breast cancer patients have completed or are about to complete their active treatment.

“The role of the program is to help guide and direct the patient through their treatment from diagnosis to the end of their active treatment and into survivorship,” says Salsedo.

Patients diagnosed with breast cancer are also offered support through Los Robles’ Pink Ribbon Partner Volunteers, where a volunteer must be a breast cancer survivor that has gone through special training with a breast center nurse navigator. After training is complete, the volunteer is paired with a patient. Currently, there are six volunteers.

“Lots of survivors go on to volunteer and do nice things for newly diagnosed patients,” says Salsedo. “They make bags, blankets, little pillows and comfort items for patients going into surgery.”

According to American Cancer Society statistics from the Los Robles Hospital website, 235,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year and more than 40,000 die from the disease. Although rare, men can also be diagnosed, which accounts for 1% of breast cancer cases in the U.S., with 122 cases in California alone. The survival rate in women is 90% higher when breast cancer is detected in its earliest stages.

“One thing everyone needs to know is that breast cancer for most women is curable,” says Cole. “I’ve seen so much grace and inner strength in women diagnosed with breast cancer that is so inspiring to me. I think everyone needs to know that there is a role to play at Los Robles Hospital and that many people fill that role to help the patient return to wellness; wellness is a part of every patients’ futures.”

For more information about the Los Robles Breast Center, visit LosRoblesHospital.com/Service/Breast-Center.