Q&A with breast health patient navigator Missy Ulfe

Missy helps guide patients through their breast cancer journey, offering knowledge and compassion along the way.

Missy Ulfe, R.N., is a breast health patient navigator with Norton Cancer Institute. The breast health patient navigator program is staffed by nurses who are available to help ease stress and offer emotional support for the entire family.

Missy discusses her work with breast cancer patients and what motivates her each day.

What is a patient navigator’s role?

A patient navigator works like a GPS to help patients through a complex diagnosis. We guide patients throughout their journey, providing support and education during a difficult time. Additionally, we answer questions that patients or their families may have.

How does a patient with breast cancer benefit from working with a patient navigator?

A patient navigator gets to know the needs of our patients. We can offer  education on interventions or help identify solutions to problems patients are experiencing, and we coordinate care under the direction of the physician and other healthcare providers. This reduces some of the stress for our patients.

Breast health patient navigators

Our patient navigators guide you through every phase of care.

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Our role is to provide a central point of contact. Our team is available to patients at different points of their breast cancer journey, from screening through survivorship.

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What are some of the issues facing patients with breast cancer?

There is a lot of emotional distress that comes with a new cancer diagnosis, and it can be paralyzing. Patients may struggle with the fear of the unknown, or anxiety and depression, and these things will impact their daily living. Patients need to be empowered to manage their illness.

Do you have any personal connection to breast cancer?

My mother passed away from breast cancer over 20 years ago. I was a very young nurse and mother at that time, and her illness and loss definitely impacted my career.

What motivates you get up and go to work every day?

I know I’m needed, I know I make a difference and I love what I do.

What’s something your patients would be surprised to know about you?

I practice Jin Shin Jyutsu, the self-help ancient art of healing. It gives me a greater sense of being, and helps me harmonize my mind, body and soul. I am pretty good at reading people’s energy.

Missy graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University of Louisville in 1994. In 2018, she earned her Master of Science degree in nursing from Western Kentucky University, and she holds a certification in breast health. Over the past 25 years, Missy has worked in multiple areas of health care ranging from an emergency department to home health, and she has been a patient navigator working with women’s health issues for about 10 years.

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