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I received a Roseburg CCNT consult from the PACT for a female Veteran with a recent abnormal mammogram. I contacted the Veteran and determined that she was experiencing a lot of anxiety regarding her abnormal imaging and pending biopsy, she was also concerned about losing temporary insurance. She lived seasonally in Alaska and was getting ready to head back in a couple weeks. I spent time listening to the Veteran’s concerns, helping her focus on next steps and educating her about breast cancer options in the community through the VA. It was apparent after the first phone call that the weight was lifted off her shoulders now that she didn’t have to worry about how she was going to pay for possible cancer treatment if her biopsy came back positive. After the phone call I contacted the Alaska VA community care team to look into cancer resources there and identify possible barriers if the Veteran did need to move there in a couple weeks.

A few days went by and as soon as I received news from PACT that the Veteran was notified of positive breast biopsy results, I reached out to the Veteran again to check-in and discuss next steps in care. At first the Veteran thought her plan would be to return to Alaska and proceed with treatment there. I explained to the Veteran that the Roseburg CCNT would work with the Alaska VA community care team to make her transition as seamless as possible if that is what she wanted, but at the same time wanted to make sure she was aware of barriers she would face in her very rural location if she needed radiation therapy or chemotherapy. After a day of thinking, the Veteran called and informed me that she would like to proceed with treatment in Roseburg. I assisted in fast tracking the Veteran’s community cancer care and she completed surgery and has begun radiation treatment, only a few months behind her pre-cancer plan.

I continue to speak with the Veteran weekly during her treatment to offer support and assure she’s connected to the appropriate resources.

Story submitted by: Abigail McEnroe CCNT RN, Roseburg OR

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Published on May. 11, 2018

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