Cancer Patient Navigator program formed in Utah

Young adult and adolescents have someone to turn to when they’re diagnosed

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) —  Young adults who have cancer can feel isolated. But a newly formed partnership between the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Intermountain Healthcare is helping patients navigate their situation.

It’s called the Huntsman-Intermountain Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Care Program. A long name, but in simple terms it helps young adult cancer patients with tailored care.

26-year-old Marina Pimentel, 26, of Provo was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma last June, a month before she was starting her new pharmaceutical job.

“Being in my 20s and getting cancer is kind of isolating. I was at my worst when I got that job.”

But she couldn’t go to work while facing 6 months of chemo.

Cancer patients between the ages of 15 to 39 years old are often times facing life transitions such as starting a job, college or possibly a family.
Sara Salmon, “fertility is huge. You may be 17 thinking this cancer treatment may affect my fertility. What do I do?”

Sara Salmon is the first Adolescent and Young Adult patient navigator in Utah.
“there’s no clinical home for adolescents and young adults. They don’t fit in the pediatric hospital with a lot of little kids and not with adults where you see a lot of older adults.”

The patient navigator can help young adults with appointments, connect with doctors and even other cancer patients no matter which health care facility.
” oh man, so nice to know that someone else is going through this.”
Salmon, “cancer is a stop. It stops you in your tracks. If you don’t have a little help that’s where we’re seeing people full time.”

Pimentel, “she’s the cancer operator, dial 0.”
The patient navigator can even help patients in there 50s or older if they were diagnosed earlier and are having trouble now no matter which healthcare facility in the state.

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