Navigating a Breast Cancer Diagnosis: Rachel’s Story

Gulf Coast Healthy Living Magazine Volume 8, Issue 4 - Baptist Health Care - Cancer

Navigating a breast cancer diagnosis: Rachels story

Four words that can change your life in an instant are “You have breast cancer.” These are words that none of us wish to hear, but many of us are faced with or know someone who has been or may be going through it now. 

Rachel K. heard that phrase last December, and in her case it was stage two invasive ductal adenocarcinoma. She heard this life changing statement just five days before Christmas. That was not how Rachel envisioned her holiday celebrations. 

“It was the most devastating moment of my life because I did not know what to expect,” said Rachel. “My first thought was about my family – my two children and my husband and how it was going to affect them. My second thought was wondering what the next steps for me would be.” 

The Baptist Health Care team knows that cancer treatment details and options can often become overwhelming along with the emotional strain of the diagnosis. That’s why patients like Rachel and others have immediate, easy access to resources through Baptist’s breast health navigation program. 

After Rachel learned of her breast cancer diagnosis, the women’s imaging department connected her to Kelly Ward, MSW, CN-BM, who served as her breast health navigator. Ward is an experienced social worker who holds special certification as a breast management navigator. Her role was to serve as Rachel’s consistent point of contact, assessing her physical, psychological and social needs, making sure her desired care plan happened timely and efficiently. 

“Kelly called me the day I found out and was my immediate supporter,” said Rachel. “She had a good ear and listened to my concerns. We went over all my questions and every little detail, things like when my hair was going to fall out and what I could expect with my hot flashes. She found answers for me and followed through on everything.” 

A friendly face and a compassionate heart – these are the primary traits of the Baptist breast health navigator and why the navigation program exists. For patients like Rachel, Kelly is that trustworthy, helpful person who supports her throughout the entire breast cancer experience. 

Treatment for breast cancer patients will vary. Some may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. The timing and frequency of these treatments must be carefully scheduled to provide optimum results. 

To read more about Rachel's Story please read Gulf Coast Healthy Living - Fall 2019 edition or to learn more about cancer please visit