The 8th annual Navigation & Survivorship Conference will welcome an estimated 900 oncology nurses and patient navigators this week in Orlando, Florida.
Also in attendance will be representatives from The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com’s medical outreach team, who will connect with nurses and navigators who regularly treat or work with mesothelioma patients.
“Our goal is to spread the word about who we are, what we do and that we’re a great service for mesothelioma patients,” said Missy Miller, The Mesothelioma Center’s medical outreach director. “Mainly we’re looking to get new connections with the people who specifically deal with the patients.”
Medical liaison Jose Ortiz travels the country to meet mesothelioma specialists and network with other health care professionals who help patients affected by asbestos-related diseases.
Ortiz will join Miller at the conference — held Nov. 16-19 at the JW Marriott, Grande Lakes resort in Orlando — in hopes of raising awareness of the many support services The Mesothelioma Center has to offer.
The conference is the signature event of the year for the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators (AONN), the nation’s largest specialty organization dedicated to improving patient care and quality of life.
“We want to help oncology nurses and patient navigators realize that we are here to help patients overcome the many barriers they may face when diagnosed with mesothelioma,” Ortiz said. “The importance is to create awareness about our organization and show how we have evolved into the leading online authority on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.”
AONN’s Navigation & Survivorship Conference gives nurses and patient navigators an opportunity to discuss the advancement of their profession in the ever-changing health care system.
One of the highlights will be a keynote presentation from seven-time Olympic medalist Shannon Miller, who says the lessons she learned while training for gymnastics competitions helped her endure the rigors of cancer treatments. Miller was just 33 when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the fall of 2010.
Missy Miller hopes to attend that keynote, along with a tumor-specific navigation forum about thoracic cancers and a breakout session about immunotherapy — believed to be the future of mesothelioma treatment.
The conference will also give attendees the chance to meet with exhibitors to learn about products and services that may help them fulfill their mission of providing optimal patient care.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, and finding specialized treatment programs can be difficult.
“Ideally, we want to learn about some of the off-shoot hospitals that may have a mesothelioma-specific program that we’re not aware of, and if they don’t have a program, let them know that we can connect them with a cancer center with a mesothelioma specialty program,” Missy Miller said. “These conferences are also great to learn about upcoming clinical trials or financial resources that may be available and beneficial for mesothelioma patients.”
The Navigation & Survivorship Conference also offers certification exams for oncology nurse navigators and oncology patient navigators. These accreditations are typically required to work as a navigator within the health care system.
Navigators help guide cancer patients through and around barriers in the complex care system to help ensure a timely diagnosis and treatment.
Similarly, Patient Advocates are committed to helping anyone affected by asbestos-related diseases.
“The collaboration and initiatives are truly endless and can be a life-changing factor when we combine to help patients,” Ortiz said. “This could involve having [navigators] call us for informational materials, travel assistance or our support group. From our end it is great when we know who the go-to person is at specialty centers.”
Because mesothelioma is so rare, many oncologists have never treated it. One of the most important steps after a mesothelioma diagnosis is finding an experienced team of specialists.
“Many times we get calls from patients still in shock with their diagnosis and are overwhelmed when it comes to treatment,” Ortiz said. “Connecting them to someone to help them medically is comforting.”