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Salivary Gland Cancer Survivor Praises Nurse Navigators

James Wade with nurse Dorothy Austin.

October 02, 2019

Just 17 years old, James Wade was diagnosed with cancer of the salivary gland after noticing an odd bump behind his left ear. Removing the tumor required a 6-hour surgery at The University of Kansas Hospital.

“I was thinking this was no big deal,” James says. “But suddenly I was trying to fit 33 radiation treatments into my schedule of classes, homework, baseball ... I had to give up playing, which was tough. But I helped coach the younger teams.”

Navigators ease the way

Along the way, Dorothy Austin, RN, entered his life. Dorothy is a nurse navigator, coordinating all aspects of care for head and neck cancer patients from diagnosis through survivorship. She reads documents for patient appointments, answers questions, offers reassurance and encouragement, locates resources and provides emotional support for patients and their loved ones – every step of the way. And that connection is for life.

“I love my patients and really like being able to make a difference in their cancer journey,” Dorothy says. “I lost my mother to cancer, so I know how hard it is, not just on the patient but the whole family.”

Region’s largest program

With 30 disease-specific nurse navigators and 19 intake coordinators, The University of Kansas Cancer Center has one of the most extensive nurse navigator programs in the U.S.

Speaking out

As for James, he is now 23, cancer-free for 6 years and a graduate of Ottawa University. Back in the game, he will catch in the bullpen for the T-Bones for his second year this summer.

And thanks to his nurse navigator’s encouragement, James has taken up public speaking to share his remarkable cancer story with high school students and other groups.

Read more about James "Hooty" Wade and his cancer survival story.

For Hailee Bland-Walsh, Kelsey Perry and Spencer Walsh, philanthropy is a family affair. Unfortunately, so is cancer.

You are not alone.

From diagnosis through treatment and recovery, our nurse navigators are here to help.

Call 913-588-3671 to speak with a nurse navigator.

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As with all treatments, individual patient results vary. It is important to discuss your treatment options with your healthcare provider.