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Leslie Baker felt overwhelmed when her mother died 15 years ago. Now, she helps other families deal with cancer. COURTESY PHOTO
Palm Coast Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011 7 years ago

Mother's death inspires change for hospital

by: Melody Hopkins

Leslie Baker is a nurse in the new Cancer Nurse Navigator program at Florida Hospital Flagler.

Leslie Baker’s mother was dying.

At that time, more than 15 years ago, not much was known about pancreatic cancer, and Baker felt completely overwhelmed. She referred to the medical system at the time as a revolving door.

“Nobody would listen to me or help me, and I did not know what to do,” she said. “There was no one there to guide me.”

Baker dropped everything going on in her life and dedicated all of her time to helping her mother get better.

Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November 1994, Baker’s mom died six months later.

When Baker, a nurse, read about Florida Hospital Flagler’s Cancer Nurse Navigator program online, she thought, I can make a difference here. I can sit down with families and I can guide them through the process. I can be right there with them and answer any questions they have.

Focusing primarily on women’s health, this new program is designed to help patients and families know how to react to cancer. From education about diagnosis and treatment to a resource for support, Baker is the personal link between patient and physician.

“Once they hear the word cancer they go blank, and they hear nothing else afterwards,” Baker said. Her role is to take in what the patient and family cannot and help them form a plan of action.

The Cancer Nurse Navigator program offers referrals to local support groups and Florida Hospital Flagler’s Cancer Library.

“There is so much out there,” Baker said. Breast-cancer and living-with-cancer support groups meet in Flagler, along with classes such as, “Look good … feel better,” offered at the hospital.

This program is available free of charge to help patients and their families through diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Call 586-4263 or e-mail [email protected].


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