BRYAN, TX - Breast cancer patients in the Brazos Valley now have access to a higher level of care than ever before.
Saint Joseph recently became the only national accredited breast center in the region.
Gayle Rodgers spends a lot of time on the waiting room couch, reading and waiting for her next appointment.
"Everyday, five days a week for 6 weeks."
It's for her daily dose of radiation. Doctors discovered she had the beginning stages of breast cancer earlier this summer.
Rodgers says, "I was in shock. I was in total shock."
Teri Sabo helps to calm her and others in similar situations down. She is St. Joseph Regional Health Center's Nurse Navigator.
Sabo says, "I get to know them quite well. They become my friend. They go on my prayer list."
Sabo's nurse navigation program is one of the big reasons the hospital received accreditation as a Breast Center of Excellence from the American College of Surgeons.
It's not just about providing the best doctors and the best equipment. It's also about having someone to hold your hand every step of the way.
Sabo says, "It's about that woman going through that journey and what does she need and what's important to her."
Sabo takes the journey with them.
"I follow them all the way through that scary diagnostic phase, the surgical phase to where they get past the surgery and I've got a new me to get used to, all the way to when they go on to the oncologist and they've got chemo therapy, maybe hair loss and all the things that go with chemotherapy. then radiation therapy. I follow them through that as well."
Her job becomes all the more important when patients don't get the news they were hoping for.
Rodgers says, "I can tell you the other day when I went back to the doctor and they didn't get clear margins, I broke down. and it was very difficult. I called her. After I called my children, I called her. She just knows how to put you at ease."
That, she tells us, makes all the difference in the world.
"I wouldn't want to do this without her."
Lucky for Rodgers... she doesn't have to.
Another factor in the recent accreditation is fast response times.
Health center staff pride themselves on having pathology results from biopsies back within 24 to 48 hours.