Health Magazine

Wreath of Memories

Posted on the 21 December 2012 by Jean Campbell

As I take out the first braided cloth wreath to begin my holiday decorating, I remember the December that I hosted a series of wreath-making sessions for my fellow patient navigators.

Looking at the wreath took me back to the years I was a patient navigator in New York City’s public hospitals and the times I spent with my fellow navigators. As navigators, we usually worked alone, visiting patients in chemo, in radiation waiting rooms and in the various medical clinics. It was a real treat when we had the opportunity to meet as a group to share our experiences and give each other support.

Throughout the year, we met for lunch in the various hospital cafeterias at least once a month. We kept in weekly contact by email and remembered birthdays.

Holidays brought that special opportunity to celebrate another year together, not only as navigators, but as cancer survivors. Out of the 7 staff and 75 volunteers that navigated weekly, 6 staff and 74 volunteers had survived cancer, primarily breast cancer.

That December of 2008, when we got together, each making a wreath , we celebrated what was to be our last year of all of us getting together. I had left the program a few months earlier, but wanted to continue the friendships developed through the program. We were all determined to make the gatherings special as we knew some of us had experienced recurrences and were no longer able to navigate.

I wish I could say that we have all been able to get together each year, since then, but, for some life events got in the way. Social media makes it easy to stay in touch when getting together is not possible. Skype sesions are almost the real thing, but I miss the hugs we always exchanged.

This holiday season, I want to send a special thanks to my fellow navigators who made being a part of the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Program such a meaningful experience.

The memories braided into each wreath I made that day will be with me always.


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