Helping Women through Their Breast Cancer Journeys

Lisa Stahl met Dara Hotaling, RN, about three years ago when she had her first breast biopsy. Stahl reconnected with Hotaling in 2014 when another biopsy showed cancer. Through the nurse navigator program in the Women’s Imaging Center, Hotaling helped Stahl navigate through all the information, specialists and appointments that come with a diagnosis of breast cancer.

“Dara was with me every step of the way,” says Stahl. “She’s a sweetheart and very helpful. She was with me for each of my biopsies and called me after every procedure. Dara always made treatment appointments for me that accommodated my work schedule.”

“Working so closely with Lisa, I was aware of her work schedule as a self-employed hair dresser and made sure that all of her appointments were convenient for her,” says Hotaling, a radiology nurse. “My patients know they can reach out to me for anything. Yes, I am their nurse, but I am also their friend.”

As a nurse navigator in the Women’s Imaging Center at Bassett Medical Center, Hotaling works to support, educate and coordinate care for women who’ve received a diagnosis of breast cancer. 

Another oncology nurse navigator, Amie Monahan, RN, says, “I value the relationships I make with patients; it’s nice to be able to help them navigate the often frustrating health care system. When a woman receives a diagnosis of breast cancer, there is often a fear of the unknown. I’m always available to explain treatments, next steps to expect and to be there at any time to answer questions.”

A nurse navigator is an expert in the process that patients go through – from screening, to diagnosis, to treatment – and stays actively involved throughout a survivorship care plan when it’s determined how often the patient needs future follow-up. The navigator is the “glue” between all the different services that a person might need, because when someone is diagnosed, it involves teamwork between the radiology group, the surgical group and the cancer treatment staff.

Caridad Fuertes, MD, radiologist and medical director of the Women’s Imaging Center, sums up the nurse navigation program, saying, “The best health care doesn’t come from advanced technology alone; it comes from people, dedicated to giving women the best experience of care and outcome possible.”


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