Sarasota, Fla -
Rilla Fleming is a single mother of five. Marie Borsellino is a nurse at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
These two ladies would have probably never met, grown close enough to hold hands, and give each other a hug, if not for one thing they have in common: Cancer.
Fleming is a breast cancer patient. "It really changed my whole world. I had to slow down," she said. "Once you find out you have something, its like another world clicks in. You have an appoitment on the 12th and another on the 15th and the 17th and one is here and one is there..."
Borsellino leads a team of nurse navigators - women who literally walk patients like Fleming through their journey from diagnosis to treatment, coordinating appointments, tests and procedures. "When they first meet me," said Bosellino, "their anxiety level is so through the roof."
The two first met during Fleming's biopsy to confirm cancer. "She was like my sister, 'let me hold your hand,' handing me a tissue," said Fleming of Borsellino.
Nurse navigators also offer great emotional support. "I couldn't put this emotional burden on my family and Marie was there. I could call her any time and cry and talk to her and she was there."
The navigators also help with payment problems - Fleming is an uninsured artist. They do all of this at no cost to the patient.
Only two years old, the program is already getting hundreds of referrals.
Many hospitals in the area offer similar programs. If you or someone you love is diagnosed with breast cancer, be sure to ask if the hospital offers something similar - at no additional cost.
Of her experience, Fleming said "It's been like a dream, sometimes a nightmare. Through it all, I look back and it's wonderful. She's been there. I had her to help."
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