Helping Patients Navigate Breast Cancer Diagnosis

CLIVE, Iowa –Hearing you might have breast cancer is devastating news that changes your life. One woman is making that part of the journey easier.

When you see Becky Rozenboom and Trish Steenhoek hug, you might think they’ve been friends for a long time, But, they just met in February. Becky said, "Trish, who was my nurse navigator and angel, because we were so scared at the beginning and in a panic."

Steenhoek is a Mammography Care Coordinator Breast Health Imaging Navigator at the Mercy Comfort Health Center for Women. Steenhoek said, "I am able to walk hand-in-hand with a patient from the point of an abnormal finding on imaging all the way through diagnosis."

Steenhoek set up Rozenboom's biopsy, showed her the images, and delivered the news. She had breast cancer at age 39. "When you're diagnosed you don't know what you're going to do, and what your treatment is, and I called up here. And, she led me on the path I needed to go," said Becky.

Steenhoek got the extra training to be a Breast Health Imaging Navigator two years ago and has worked with hundreds of women. She said, "Last year we did 665 biopsies. So, I was in with every single one of the patients from the beginning to the end. There are several times I'm even in the procedure with them so they have that continuum of care."

Rozenboom has a few more weeks of treatment and is thankful for the support at the beginning of her journey. "It made it so much better, having somebody with you, setting up the appointments, and she held my hand and patted my leg during procedures, and to have that human contact and to have someone you could call or text, it made it a whole lot easier on us."

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Steenhoek wants to remind people to do monthly breast self-exams, a yearly clinical exam with your doctor, and a yearly screening mammogram starting at the age of 40.