Published on October 06, 2017

Mother and Son Walking in Rural South Dakota

Cancer Navigation Center Offers Answers and Assistance

One of the things Connie Groop knows best is rural South Dakota.

The longtime ag journalist and volunteer, who hails from a farm near Frederick, S.D., just a half-hour north of Aberdeen, knows quite a bit about Avera’s cancer navigation program, too.

Groop served on the Avera Rural Cancer Advisory Board charged with raising awareness of the resources available to patients and families who face cancer. She is aware of the challenges because her sister faced cancer.

“She would have questions, and there were a lot of struggles to get answers,” said Groop. “She might have to call her doctor, who then would recommend she’d speak with her oncologist, and she might not be able to reach that person and then end up talking to a nurse practitioner. It was not easy.”

At one time, Groop’s sister had questions about a pain medication.

“It was a powerful pain drug, and she had a lot of questions about it, but it wasn’t easy to get the facts, especially when anxiety woke her up in the middle of the night,” she said. “That’s why the Avera Cancer Institute Navigation Center makes so much sense. With a single call, people can get help. They can get the answers from knowledgeable staff. If the person at the Navigation Center doesn’t have the answer, they work until they do.”

Committee Rural Outreach

As an advisory board member, Groop found herself visiting many small towns, dropping off posters and information at post offices, gas stations and coffee shops. She had a lot of one-on-one conversations with folks, and saw connections form in all sorts of situations, even during one of her hair appointments.

“I was getting my hair cut and another woman there mentioned that she was facing cancer and had a lot of questions,” she said. “I explained the reality of the navigators and what they do – it was something she could use to get help.”

Groop reminded many folks that the Cancer Navigation Center provides 24-hour personalized cancer care to anyone, regardless if they are an Avera patient. It matters not where they live or who they see for care. They need only call 888-422-1410.

“It’s a resource center, but much more – they can not only help with appointments and to coordinate care, but they can give many answers,” she said. “It can cut down on unnecessary travel and hassles that come with the diagnosis, no matter who needs the answers, from patients to family members to friends, or even the staff at medical offices.”

Wide-Spread Network with One Call

Groop said that in some cases, the navigator is there to answer questions, but when it comes to specific care, they can help with the logistics and get people lined up with appointments.

“If there are visiting specialists, navigators will know and they’ll have the schedule,” said Groop. “They can also help with transportation ideas, and that’s a huge service for folks who live in rural areas. We need to remind anyone facing cancer of this resource and to remind them it’s a no-cost service where there are no stupid questions – you can call as much as you want to get help facing this disease.”

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