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Play Pivotal Role in Cancer Patient Care

Few things hit harder than a cancer diagnosis. “At that moment, you’re in shock and you feel like your world is just falling apart,” said Shannon Rodbell. “The navigator was the one person who was able to help me put it back together and direct me in a way that made sense.”

The 46-year-old mother of three had lost her own mother to breast cancer in 1984 when she was 11. When Rodbell was diagnosed last year after a routine yearly mammogram, her daughter was 11. “Hearing those words brought it all back to me,” she said. “You feel like you’re unable to move and unable to think about what to do next.

“I remember calling my sister to tell her and I couldn’t even say I was just diagnosed with breast cancer,” said the Prince Frederick resident. “I couldn’t even get the words out of my mouth.”

She said the navigator at the CalvertHealth Sheldon E. Goldberg Center for Breast Care helped guide her every step of the way. “I feel the role of the navigator is pivotal,” said board-certified medical oncologist Dr. Arati Patel, who is medical director at the breast center. “They are instrumental in keeping patients on track and overcoming barriers.”

Rodbell (below) went on to have her breast surgery, reconstruction and chemotherapy at CalvertHealth Medical Center and radiation therapy at Chesapeake Potomac Regional Cancer Center (CPRCC) in Charlotte Hall. CPRCC partners with the breast center to provide both external and internal radiation therapy for the treatment of breast cancer.

Shannon Rodbell

‘I Felt So Supported’

“I was immediately connected with the navigator,” said Rodbell. “She was very personable and easy to talk to. She always took the time to explain everything to me so I could understand.”

Rodbell said she also appreciated how much help the navigator provided in coordinating her appointments. “I feel we’re lucky to have what we have here,” she said. “I would highly recommend Calvert to anyone who needs breast care.”

‘You’re in Good Hands’

“I am an experienced oncology nurse and I needed a navigator,” said Renee Sbrocco (above), who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 52 after a routine yearly mammogram in 2018. “I just crumbled right there. Those are the last words you ever want to hear.

“I don’t even think I took a breath before someone was holding me,” said Sbrocco. “I was led into the office of the nurse navigator. We called my husband together. She took over when I couldn’t even speak. She allowed me to be human, which is what I needed to do.

“I think the navigator is critical,” she added. “They are the one-on-one contact person, resource person, educator and communicator to help patients and their families understand their treatment options, tests, procedures and whatever else they need help with throughout the entire course of their treatment.

“With the help of these amazing navigators, my family and I were able to focus on what was so very important …each other. ” – Renee Sbrocco, breast cancer survivor

“As a patient, you’re only concerned with survival,” said Sbrocco. “The support and guidance from these exceptional navigators allowed me to walk away from my nursing role … to be scared, to cry, to ask questions, to lean on and to be comforted.” She chose to have her breast surgery and reconstruction at CalvertHealth Medical Center but did not need chemotherapy.

“I felt safe and secure knowing I was in very good hands,” she said. “From the very first moment, I felt the gift the CalvertHealth family is so capable of giving … excellent health care with an empathetic approach. Every single person I encountered treated me with the utmost dignity and respect.”

Sbrocco said one of the biggest takeaways from her experience is realizing the importance of the navigator. “For us to be able to have that resource for our community is huge,” she said. “Some say the road to recovery is paved with positive thinking … I believe you can’t have positive thinking unless you are surrounded by positive support and great care.”


Oncology financial navigator Tracy Delahay is the newest member of CalvertHealth Medical Center’s team of navigators. She works closely with patients and family members to help ease any worries or concerns about treatment costs and insurance processing.

Delahay, who came on board earlier this summer, said she understands the distress some patients may feel about financial issues. “I am here to help alleviate that burden as much as possible,” she said. “I want our patients to feel comfortable and confident knowing I will do everything I can to help them.”

For patients who are underinsured or have no oncology related coverage, Delahay can help identify assistance programs or connect patients with other resources to help reduce their out-of-pocket responsibility.

The other members of the team are Megan Hance, RN who joined the breast center in 2018 and Diana Lewis, RN, BSN, OCN, who has been working with breast and thoracic patients since 2017.

Hance brings broad experience and expertise to the program, including six years as an oncology nurse with CalvertHealth Hematology & Oncology. “Working with these providers has given me insight as to how treatment plans are developed. I feel this is especially beneficial in my role as breast care navigator,” she said.

Her philosophy of care is all about patient empowerment. “I want our patients to feel at ease and comfortable speaking with me,” she said. “It’s important for them to know I am here for them. I want them to feel informed about their care decisions and to know they are part of the team.”

Lewis said the navigators are readily available to provide reassurance and support. “When a person is diagnosed with any form of cancer, they are immediately overwhelmed with their diagnosis,” she said. “That’s why I’m here. To help navigate them and offer the support they need to get through this.

“Whether it’s additional equipment at home, referrals for other specialists or teaching about their particular diagnosis and care plan,” said Lewis. “It’s a lot for anyone to take in. By answering questions and coordinating next steps, we can help lessen their anxiety.”
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