RALEIGH, N.C. — Hospitals and cancer centers are getting bigger and bigger. It can be intimidating for any patient, so many hospitals are adding a friendly face to soften the experience.
Until she had breast cancer, Jane Doby was never sick enough to check into a hospital.
"You know your hair, sort of, stands on end when you find out what you have to go through," she said. "I didn't think about bringing a friend with me. I didn't know how nervous I would be."
Doby did not know what to expect until Jeanne Poole dropped in for a home visit before Jane's scheduled lumpectomy.
"Taking away fear of the unknown is usually through education," Poole said.
Poole is a nurse navigator for breast cancer patients at the Rex Cancer Center. Her role is to be a familiar face -- a bedside teacher, ready with a dose of compassion at any time of day.
"I come early somedays when they're having early surgery and if they're not getting out of surgery until late, I stay until I've seen them and that they're doing well," Poole said.
After surgery, Poole gives her patients a handmade bag of items, including a pillow. The pillow came in handy for Jane after her surgery. Now, Poole is helping her through the next step of treatment -- radiation. The personal touch made all the difference for Doby.
"She makes you feel as comfortable as possible under the circumstances," Doby said.
The Navigator program at Rex is only for breast cancer patients. Its cancer center sees between 500 to 600 patients a year.