Sandra Lukic, AM, LSW, has one goal: to help cancer patients. She is a patient navigator at Rush University Cancer Center in a joint program with the American Cancer Society.
"I do what my title suggests: I help people navigate a complicated period in their lives," says Lukic, a licensed social worker. "I want to smooth the way so they can concentrate on getting better." By phone or in person, she answers thousands of questions.
These are some of the ones she's most frequently asked:
What does this word mean?
"Being diagnosed with cancer is overwhelming," says Lukic. "Sometimes, patients won't think of questions — about particular terms, for instance — until after they've left a doctor's appointment." She's there to explain the complexities of cancer care, provide supporting information and, when necessary, connect patients back to a doctor. "No question is too personal, too embarrassing, too big or too small," she promises.
Is there a program that can help with that?
Lukic keeps track of resources available at Rush, in the community and nationally. That way, she's able to help patients and families find support groups, financial aid programs, appointment transportation options and exercise programs — even where to get free wigs and hats.
Can I share something with you?
At times, Lukic serves simply as support — a safe haven to celebrate a milestone or discuss a fear. "I love it when patients just stop by to give me updates on their progress or how treatment is going," she says.
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