Navigating your way through breast cancer

A Blessing nurse has made it her mission to make sure her patients are armed with the support they need before beginning their battle with breast cancer.

"The radiation was a breeze after the chemo," Dolores Graham said.

Graham learned she had breast cancer a year and a half ago. She immediately began treatments through the Blessing Breast Center. Graham says she had family to lean on, but nothing came quite close to having Sheila Hermesmeyer at her side.

"Right away, you know, they have three doctors they've never met before and they just need someone to go with them to help explain some things," Hermesmeyer said.

"Sometime there's things you don't understand. Doctors have their own language," Graham said.

Hermesmeyer is a registered nurse, and Blessing's sole Breast Center Navigator. She's there during initial treatments, doctor's visits and post ops.

"I usually go to about 5 or 6 appointments with the patient," Hermesmeyer said.

Hermesmeyer also looks for ways around barriers like travel and insurance costs that may keep her patients from getting the proper care. She's seen about 110 people in the last year and a half, including three men recently diagnosed with breast cancer. This week, she met with Graham who just finished her active treatment.

"She went to my surgeons appointment, to the chemo doctor's appointment. She went with me to my first treatment. And I always knew I could call her and I did. Several times," Graham said.

Even when the treatment stops, Hermesmeyer continues to follow up with each person, making sure they're taking their meds without complications or side effects.

"She's a good one. She is. She makes you feel very comfortable," Graham said. "It's one of the smartest things that Blessing has ever done."

The five year survival rate of breast cancer is more than 90 percent when caught early. That's why it's important to know your family history and get your mammogram every year. You can make an appointment at the Blessing Breast Center.