BY ROSIE PIGA PIZZO
As long as Debra Traylor Davis had been getting yearly mammograms, she had also been getting called back to Southern Indiana Radiological Associates (SIRA). “They usually couldn’t get a good read on the first one, so I’d have to get a second mammogram,” Davis says. “So when they called me back last year, I figured that’s what it was.”
But it wasn’t. On July 27, the wife and mother of three, who is also a practicing attorney, was told her latest mammogram had revealed a lump. As Davis puts it, that’s when Nurse Navigator Jami Cornwell “was there to pick up the pieces.”
When IU Health Bloomington Hospital patients receive a cancer diagnosis, they are referred to the Olcott Center and Nurse Navigators, a program that Bloomington Hospital has offered for 20 years. Nurse Navigators act as liaisons between patients and the health care community, offering patients guidance throughout their cancer journey. Nurse Navigators take an assessment of patients’ financial, emotional, transportation, and other needs, and offer education, direction to community resources, and emotional support from diagnosis until help is no longer needed.
Davis underwent a lumpectomy in October, and a sample of the tumor was analyzed using an Oncotype DX test. The test allows doctors to determine the likelihood of a recurrence, helping them make the best decisions regarding treatment.
Cornwell was aware of the score, which was high, and she also knew that because of scheduling issues, Davis’ husband, Dave, couldn’t be with her when she got the results. “I had to figure a way to be there when she got her score,” Cornwell says. That is one of the emotional support roles of a Nurse Navigator.
“Jami listens and she is positive and encourages me … and she takes her job seriously,” Davis says, choking up as she speaks. Cornwell reaches over to give her a hug.
Davis underwent 12 weeks of chemotherapy beginning last December. She started another 12 weeks in March. Despite the appointments and treatments, Davis has managed to keep up her private law practice, which she opened just prior to her diagnosis. She credits her Nurse Navigator for making that possible. “You can’t remember everything,” Davis says. “All of the things for chemo and so forth, and that’s what Jami is there for.”
“Take it one day at a time,” Cornwell says.
Davis agrees. “That’s the way you have to do it.”