There’s a strong bond between breast cancer survivors and the people who have walked with them during their journey to recovery. For Jamie Rygiel, RN, Jodi Padgett and Janine Sass that connection is a true sisterhood.
“My sisters are breast cancer survivors,” says Rygiel, Clinical Nurse Navigator at the Breast Care Center at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC). “Jodi and Janine were both diagnosed with breast cancer at age 45, seven years apart. My sisters are the reason I’m part of the Breast Care Center team. They are why I’m so passionate about my work.”
Rygiel’s dedication is especially clear to Breast Care Center patients facing a possible cancer diagnosis. Rygiel and Rhodora (Rho) Ebersole , RN, BSN – also a Clinical Nurse Navigator at the Breast Care Center – step in as soon as patients learn they need a biopsy.
“When my sister, Jodi, was first diagnosed she went through an entire month of diagnostic tests. It felt like forever to all of us,” Rygiel says. “At the Breast Care Center, our goal is to expedite diagnostic imaging and biopsies so patients get information as quickly as possible.”
At our imaging center, biopsies are non-surgical. Patients may undergo Ultrasound, Stereotactic, (which is mammography-based technology) or MRI biopsies. All of these are done using a needle device.
Rygiel prepares patients by discussing the biopsy process. She covers every aspect from check-in at the Breast Care Center to the numbing agent used to the number of tissue samples obtained, to the post-procedure instructions and more. During the biopsy, Rygiel offers her hand as well as reassuring words to provide emotional support. This “compassionate care,” as Rygiel calls it, helps patients cope during an emotional and overwhelming time.
Soon after the biopsy results are available, Rygiel reaches out to the patient. She discusses the pathology findings, outlines the next steps and answers the patient’s questions. She is consoling and emphathetic to patients who receive a cancer diagnosis and those who have breast issues, such as a benign tumor that requires surgery.
Every patient diagnosed with breast cancer receives a book from the Breast Care Center titled, Be a Survivor, by Vladimir Lange, MD. The book opens with these encouraging words: “Breast cancer is not a death sentence. Ninety-eight percent of those diagnosed early are successfully treated.”
“Breast cancer is an emotional roller coaster,” Rygiel says. “Patients need compassion, education and comfort.”
Rygiel moves swifty so patients receive the care they need. She contacts the surgeon’s office and oncologist’s office to help facilitate, expedite and coordinate care.
Rygiel also helps breast cancer patients navigate the non-clinical aspects of their journey. Thanks to support from Yavapai Regional Medical Center Foundation donors, Rygiel connects Breast Care Center patients undergoing treatment to:
- Discounted wigs
- Post-surgical bras
- House cleaning services
- Transportation to treatment
- Compression sleeves to help patients with lymphemeda (localized swelling some experience after cancer treatment)
A Call to Care
Rygiel notes that there are others in the Breast Care Center family – staff and volunteers – who have personally faced breast cancer or supported family members with breast cancer.
“That puts us in a unique position to help people and to identify with their needs,” she says. “We have an amazing team at the Breast Care Center. I’m honored and blessed to be part of this team.”
To schedule an appointment at the Breast Care Center, talk to your healthcare provider or call (928) 771-7577. Learn more about the Breast Care Center at DignityHealth.org/YRMC.
Submitted by Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center