Patient finds innovative and compassionate care for pancreatic cancer

When Susan* was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier this year, she was completely blindsided. After all, she’s only 58 years old, has no family history of the disease and her sole symptom was a stomachache.

“It was very much out of the blue,” she says.

Susan knew she needed to wrap her head around her diagnosis so she could begin treatment quickly before her condition worsened. Dissatisfied with the care she was receiving from the team that diagnosed her at another hospital, she solicited recommendations from friends and acquaintances. A series of connections led her to Erkut Borazanci, MD, MS, Medical Oncologist and Principal Investigator at HonorHealth Research and Innovation Institute.

She found hope and a caring team of oncology experts at HonorHealth Research and Innovation Institute. After discussing treatment options with them, she learned about something that wasn’t available at the first hospital she consulted.

“There was a clinical trial open that had one spot left in it,” Susan says. “They sat down with me and discussed the course of treatment and their success rate.”

Nurse navigator provides calm in the storm

In addition to meeting the medical team, Susan also met Andrea House, an oncology nurse navigator. HonorHealth Research and Innovation Institute provides virtual nurse navigators to serve and support patients regardless of geographical location by providing personalized education and care. The virtual nurse navigator assists patients so they can become their own advocate and make informed decisions for their future health and wellbeing. This assistance also empowers patients to overcome challenges they experience throughout their cancer treatment journey.  

When House meets with patients after a cancer diagnosis, she says they feel like their lives have been turned upside down like a boat overturned in a storm. Through her conversations with them, she’s able to throw them a life preserver so they can move forward with their cancer fight.

“Susan called me and explained that she was overwhelmed by a new diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and grasping at straws,” House says. “Her boat had capsized. The grasping ended with our call when I gave her the information, confirmation and education she needed to understand her current care path and future options.”

Andrea House - oncology nurse navigator
Andrea House - Oncology nurse navigator

Empowered to move forward

After meeting with the experts at HonorHealth Research and Innovation Institute, evaluating her options with her fiancé and talking with House, Susan decided to take the final spot in the clinical trial and begin treatment immediately. 

Dr. Borazanci and his team walked her through the forms she needed to fill out to begin treatment and explained what would happen next.

‘There is a whole team of people behind you.’

Susan began her treatment program in late summer 2020.

“They call it the grand slam,” she explains, “because it has a more aggressive and holistic approach.”

She’s s receiving both chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Because the trial is through HonorHealth Research and Innovation Institute, Susan is able to get all of her care in one place instead of going to multiple facilities for various therapies and tests. Since she goes to treatment three times a week, she’s grateful for the convenience, especially during a time when she isn’t feeling her best. 

“At HonorHealth Research and Innovation Institute, all treatment and care is provided by HonorHealth oncology nurses and staff,” she explains. “There is a whole team of people behind you.” 

Ready to fight

Susan is a busy professional with a leadership role at her company. Since her diagnosis, she has transitioned to part time so she can focus on the business of healing. 

So far, she’s showing promising results with the clinical trial, and House continues to be by her side to help her navigate her treatment and offer encouragement. 

“I hope my patients understand that science is working at a fast pace to fight their cancer, to turn their boat upright,” she says. “I want them to be embraced by this knowledge, by this philanthropy and to remain hopeful.”

Despite the challenges ahead as she fights pancreatic cancer, Susan is still able to find the positive side of the situation and is grateful to have found HonorHealth Research and Innovation Institute.

“I can’t believe my good fortune,” she says.

To contact our HonorHealth Research and Innovation Institute Oncology Nurse Navigation Team, call 480-323-1364 or email clinicaltrials@honorhealth.com.

*The patient’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.