(HOPE) Helping Others through Personal Experiences

In most cases, finding one’s way through the healthcare system and knowing what support and services available can be challenging especially at a time when breast cancer patients have to make major life decisions. While coping with the shock of a cancer diagnosis, patients must begin to negotiate a complicated maze of tests, appointments, treatments, and other services. It is critical that newly diagnosed patients be informed about their disease, its implications, and how their treatment experience may be coordinated between different service providers.

Given that supportive care is increasingly been recognized as an integral part of quality cancer treatment, little is known about any existing supportive services for breast cancer patients in Ghana. As a result, Breast Care International (BCI), a Ghana based non governmental organization (NGO) seeking to intensify breast health awareness in the rural communities while encouraging early breast cancer presentation, in collaboration with Carrie’s TOUCH Inc., a California based breast cancer awareness, education, research, and support organization has created a Peer–Nurse Navigation program in Kumasi, Ghana based on Helping Others through Personal Experiences (H.O.P.E.) module.

As part of the implementation strategy of the HOPE Peer-Nurse Navigation program, a 3-Day Training Program for survivors and nurses was done at the Peace and Love Hospital in Kumasi, August 20-23, 2013.

The goal of the training was to empower the participants by equipping them with skills and navigation tools to guide patients to quality health outcomes in a structured manner. Upon successful completion of the training, participants were ready to accomplish the following:

  • Connect newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with local resources to meet their various needs while undergoing treatment and encourage them to complete their treatment.
  • Provide emotional support and connect newly diagnosed cancer patients with cancer survivors trained to assist with relieving anxiety, and working with patients to help with treatment decision-making
  • Reduce barriers to care and provide more efficient delivery of care and identify gaps in service 
  • Increased sharing of resources both within the organization and with community organizations 
  • Improve teamwork or collaboration between patients, family members, peer navigators, and nurse navigators 

The aim of this innovative program is to use a combination of breast cancer survivors and nurses living in the same communities to guide newly diagnosed breast cancer patients towards achieving quality health outcomes by providing culturally appropriate supportive services on medical, emotional, educational, and financial for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients in the first six months.

Currently there are 63 newly diagnosed patients that are enrolled into the program.