As a nurse navigator for lung cancer, sarcoma patients, and their families and caregivers, Tammy is their single point of contact. She provides them with education about their disease, treatments, and assists them with finding other resources as they need. She also takes the time to assess their physical, emotional, spiritual, financial and psycho-social needs since each patient has their own needs.
"I make sure that patients needing referrals for support, assistance, diagnositic testing, or specialist are made in a timely fashion and the patient is kept aware of what to expect," said Tammy. "Communication and education are keys in successful treatments, as is working closely with the total oncology team in making sure everyone is on the same page with needs and plans."
Tammy has worked in different aspects of nursing from the med/surgical floor, chemotherapy, radiation, hospice, clinical trials, and now as a navigator. "I love what I am doing--combining all of my experience in all these areas and navigating patients through all the phases of their cancer experience."
As a testament to her passion and success, Tammy was named the Best Lung Cancer Health Care Provider for the Month in November 2012 on Facebook and also was honored to be awarded the 2012 Oncology Nursing Excellence Award at UNC Lineberger.
Tammy also volunteers with cancer organizations. "I have been working with the North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership for the past several years and I love doing outreach and education and raising awareness about sarcoma and lung cancer and correcting the misconceptions and stigmas about the disease. I also mentor new navigators and shows them how to find resources that will help their patients."
Born and raised on a dairy farm in a little community outside of Chapel Hill, Tammy has a wonderful, supportive husband, two wonderful grown children. "My family is my life," she said. "I spend time with my family and love the beach and all types of animals. I enjoy cooking and writing cookbooks and making crafts out of unique objects. I am a Tarheel born and bred and bleed Carolina Blue."
And the advice she always gives to her cancer patients? "Do NOT Google anything about cancer! There is too much inaccurate information out there. Go to a medical oncologist who is experienced in your type of cancer. Get a second opinion if you do not feel comfortable with what you are hearing. Do not listen to old wives tales or compare your cancer to other types of cancers. All cancers are not treated the same. All cancers have different outcomes. To sum it up, be a self-advocate. Cancer has changed so much over the past several years and continues to change in a positive manner. There IS hope."