Why do I work in the HFM Cancer Center?

Pattie Wellner, RN, OCN
Nurse Navigator

I have been working at Holy Family Memorial for 42 years; with 32 of those years in oncology nursing. My journey into oncology nursing started as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in 1981. Sometimes I think I got more from my patients than I gave to them. My oncology patients are one of the reasons why I decided to go back to school to get my nursing degree. Since then, I have never once looked back and questioned why I became a certified oncology nurse.

Four years ago, I became the nurse navigator at the HFM Cancer Center which is a position that is still new to the nursing world. In this role, I work with patients to make their cancer journey a little less scary. As a nurse navigator, I am the main point of contact for patients for support and resources throughout their treatment. I make sure appointments are scheduled on time, help patients understand what the doctor said about their diagnosis or treatment, make referrals to support services, and advocate for patients’ needs. And often, I am just there to provide a listening ear and show support.

There are indeed days when it is hard and sad to be working with cancer patients, but the happy times—forging relationships with patients, seeing patients celebrate a special occasion or ringing the bell on the last day of treatment—outweighs all the sad times.

I especially enjoy working with my colleagues in the HFM Cancer Center. They are a great group of caring, passionate, and committed staff who love what they do. Not only are they there to support and give great care for patients, but we support and care for one another also.

Oncology nursing is something that gets in your blood and heart and stays forever. It helps shape who you are and will become. For me, it is one of the most humbling, meaningful and rewarding work that I get to do.