Bree Duncan, RN, BSN, on challenges faced by female patients with bladder cancer

Opinion
Video

"There are a lot of questions and issues regarding [topics] like body image and sexual function, and things like that, that also, being a woman in this role, I feel like they feel comfortable asking me those questions," says Bree Duncan, RN, BSN.

In this video, Bree Duncan, RN, BSN, discusses the challenges female patients with bladder cancer face and offers advice on establishing a care coordination role in bladder cancer in women. Duncan is the Gail Kraemer Care Coordinator for Female Bladder Cancer Patients at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Transcription:

What are some challenges female patients with bladder cancer specifically face?

It's a much smaller population compared with the men. And so, there are a lot of questions and issues regarding [topics] like body image and sexual function, and things like that, that also, being a woman in this role, I feel like they feel comfortable asking me those questions. I've gotten questions like that, from patients who, even though the doctors are wonderful, they might not feel comfortable asking those specific questions to them, especially the male providers. And so I'll get those questions. And I might not know the answers to all of them, so I'll be that middle person to get the answers for them. But I think as a woman, it's easier to relate to another woman. Even if I haven't been through the cancer journey, I'm there with them for it.

What advice would you give others looking to implement a similar role?

I would say it's a learning process along the way, just to see how best to help the specific patients. We started this a little over a year ago, and it's definitely been a journey where it's kind of changed courses a couple times. [We're] documenting what we're doing along the way, what things we could do better. I meet with Dr. Chang regularly, and let him know what I've been up to, the feedback I've been getting. And we just come up with different ideas of ways that I can better assist patients. The goal is also not to only help our patients but help the rest of the staff and the providers. Having 1 person who has so much interaction with these women, it's easier than trying to be like, "who spoke to that patient last about this?" If I can be that one that a lot of it funnels through, the goal is to help ease the load on some of the clinic nurses and be there to help communicate with the providers.

This transcription has been edited for clarity.

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