Avera Medical Minute: Nurse navigator helps Aberdeen patients

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (DAKOTA NEWS NOW) - Katie Rasmus can remember the moment she found a lump in her breast. It was a whirlwind of events after that, beginning with that first doctor's visit.

Mary Holsing nurse navigator

"Two days later he called to let me know I had breast cancer. One week later we met with oncology and he informed me that I had triple-positive breast cancer. And that's when we were first introduced to Mary," said Rasmus.

Nurse navigator Mary Holsing has been on this journey with Katie to answer questions, provide emotional support and coordinate care.

"Anytime, any type of appointment comes up she's willing to help me schedule them. That takes a lot of stress off me because I'm still trying to come home and work, take care of my kids, and cancer just adds a lot of stress and she was able to eliminate some of that," said Rasmus.

If it's a bad day, Mary is just a phone call away.

"She just brings things back to reality and that's all I need is some comfort from somebody that knows," said Rasmus.

Katie says hearing what she's going through is normal for other cancer survivors brings her peace of mind.

"My goal is to guide them and to support them to basically walk this journey with them," said Holsing.

If there can be a silver lining to a cancer journey, Mary would be one.
Nurse Navigators coordinate referrals for breast Surgeons, plastic surgeons, cancer specialists, chemotherapy and radiation, cosmetologist for wigs, skin, and nails, lab work, and even coordinate a multidisciplinary breast conference for each patient.

"Where all of those specialists are involved in that meeting, and we discuss the entire case and we formulate whats the best plan of treatment for her. And so it becomes very individualized and very personalized," said Holsing.

Caring with compassion. "Just rely on us to be, to hold your hand, and to walk with you, to help you through this journey because it's a journey," said Holsing.

And Katie says her progress is all because of her nurse navigator and angel, Mary.

"The doctors are great, everybody's been great, but she really takes the time to make sure that I understand it and answers all my questions," said Rasmus.

Nurse Navigators are available for patients battling cancer and other serious injuries at several Avera hospitals in the region.