Meet our Cancer Team

Our oncology team works with patients, their families, primary care physicians, and doctors specializing in surgery, pathology, and radiation and medical oncology to provide complete care.

Our team consists of but is not limited to:
 

Patient Navigator

A cancer diagnosis affects not only the patient, but also family members and friends. It raises many emotions – fear, uncertainty, anger, and sadness. Patients often feel a sense of numbness and can be confused trying to sort through all of the information.

To help them through their journey, St. Nicholas Hospital’s team includes caring, oncology-trained registered nurses called patient navigators. These navigators help patients with insurance issues, finding and choosing doctors, coordinating doctor visits, communicating with their health care team, assisting caregivers and managing medical paperwork, among other tasks.

Navigators take a proactive approach in helping patients overcome the barriers of cost, fear, and misinformation surrounding their disease and its treatment. As our relationship grows so does our friendship – they trust me – and I watch them become stronger – physically, mentally and emotionally. We continue to support patients after their treatments by looking at lifestyle changes, continued health monitoring/prevention and the emotional or financial issues concerning survivorship. In other words, we are here for their whole journey,”
Sara Kaffine, RN, Patient Navigator, HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital

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Oncologists

Radiation Oncologist

Radiation Oncologists are physicians with advanced training who are key decision makers in choosing whether radiation therapy may be of value and the type of radiation therapy an individual may receive. This physician is the team leader and stays with you from initial consultation all the way through follow-up care. 

Medical Oncologists
Medical oncologists care for the patient from the moment of diagnosis throughout the course of treatment and past recovery. The focus of medical oncology is on “systemic therapy”, or providing treatments against cancer that has or could spread to other parts of the body, or in providing treatments to help shrink a cancerous tumor so the surgeon can more effectively remove it. Our experts also coordinate treatment given by other specialists.

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Oncology Nurses

An Oncology Nurse is a specially trained registered nurse who specializes in the care of people with cancer. Oncology nurses may prepare and give treatments, monitor patients, side effects, provide supportive care, and teach and counsel patients and their families. They meet with patients each week throughout the radiation therapy treatment course and assist the Radiation Oncologists in consultation and follow-up visits after treatment is completed.

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Radiation Therapists

Radiation Therapists work directly with the Radiation Oncologist in simulation and treatment and then run the radiation treatment machines to deliver that treatment to the patient. Radiation therapists also maintain daily records and regularly check the treatment machines to make certain they are performing according to our stringent standards. Our Radiation therapists receive thorough training under a two- to four-year educational program. In addition, all of our Radiation Therapists must pass a rigorous examination and be certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, a standard higher than many other cancer centers. This certification also requires each therapist to meet a required number of hours of continuing education each year.

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Dietitians

During or after treatment, concerns related to weight or diet sometimes occur. A specially trained Dietitian is available to help with:

  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore or dry mouth or throat
  • Taste changes
  • Questions about special diet restrictions
  • Difficulty swallowing
Dieticians help patients deal with these concerns by providing advice or by working with the physicians to prescribe medical interventions.

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Spiritual and Pastoral Support

From time to time, patients and families find themselves searching for answers to difficult questions such as, “Why me?” “Where is God when I seem to need God the most?” A Chaplain is available to listen and help with spiritual concerns, to offer prayer and emotional support, and provide education related to grief and loss.

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Oncology Social Workers

A diagnosis of cancer and subsequent cancer treatment can result in a period of adjustment and an increase in stress for patients and their families.  Oncology social workers provide counseling and other services which can reduce stress for you and your family.  They are available to assist with psychosocial, emotional, financial or other non-medical concerns that may follow a cancer diagnosis.  They are trained to recognize the challenges in adjustment that often accompany the diagnosis of cancer and to assist in managing distress.  Oncology Social Workers are also experts in linking patients and families to community resources and in providing advocacy to those with cancer.  The goal of social work services is to use their expertise to help alleviate barriers to care and provide the support necessary for survivorship.

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