Helping others navigate cancer
He was a teenage cancer patient whose family thought he would make it.
But the long-time sufferer’s aggressive illness proved incurable and the 17-year-old died four weeks after his final diagnosis.
For Wendy Hayward-Morey, stories like these are sad, but part of her job. She has been a cancer ‘‘navigator’’ at Te Whanau o Waipereira since 2006.
And the service provided in partnership with Waitemata DHB was not just for the terminally-ill.
Hayward-Morey and her colleague Anita Hakaraia worked with west Auckland Maori, aged 16 years and over, who had been diagnosed with cancer.
From taking patients to medical appointments, sorting out budgets, dealing with agencies like Child Youth and Family, Housing New Zealand and Work and Income – to helping patients learn about selfcare, the cancer navigators do it all.
‘‘If you haven’t got support from a navigator you have to try and find your way through a system that is just a quagmire,’’ said HaywardMorey.
She said the best part of her job was working with the whole whanau to make the journey easier.
Hayward-Morey said the cancer navigation programme began nine years ago with a single question, ‘‘why do Maori not access available palliative care?’’.
As they worked to find the answers they found Maori needed support through the ‘‘whole journey’’ that began from the time of diagnosis.
Hakaraia said it was the little things that made a difference to the patients.
The most meaningful discussions the navigators had with the cancer sufferers were on the way to appointments.
But the social worker, who had been in the role for four years, said working with Maori had its challenges.
It was not uncommon for them to put their whanau before their own needs.
‘‘[It’s] I am not going to my hospital appointment, because I want to take my daughter to school or [I will] use this bus money for lunches for the children rather than pay for the bus to go to my treatment.’’
Hakaraia said things needed be working well at home for patients to access medical care.
Anita Hakaraia, front, and Wendy Hayward-Morey are cancer navigation staff at Te Whanau o Waipereira.