By Ms. Debra Thompson (Army Medicine)April 20, 2017
Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.- When Brandy Elliot moved to Fort Leonard Wood from Virginia she had no idea she would be carrying on part of her mom's legacy in her job.
Elliot is the Cancer Registrar for General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital. Her job is to gather information about a patient from the time they are diagnosed with cancer and follow them throughout their lifetime.
She is the go-to for cancer patients when they need help with resources, accessing medical records from different doctors and even transportation needs to their cancer treatment facility.
"I streamline things between the treatment facilities so if they are missing medical records or anything I can get it to them so their treatment isn't delayed," Elliot said.
When a patient is diagnosed with cancer at GLWACH, the patient is then referred to a cancer treatment facility for care. The general surgeons are beginning to put more ports in so the patient doesn't have to go out for that surgery.
As the Cancer Registrar its Elliot's job to gather information on any treatments they've had, any hazardous material they may have been exposed to, and the age of diagnosis and inputs this into a Department of Defense database, then into the National Cancer Database. The National Cancer Database publishes statistics on survival rates, the type of people who are diagnosed with what types of cancers, and how often.
Elliot's mom passed from brain cancer but she is the reason she continues to do the job she does.
"Knowing its helping people is important to me because of what my mom went through. This gives me a part of her to carry on," said Elliot.
Elliot hopes to get to know each patient personally and be an advocate and a liaison for them. Her experience with her mom taught her some valuable lessons when it comes to helping those going through treatments. Her number one suggestion is to ask the doctor if they'd be ok with your recording the appointment.
When you're just diagnosed with cancer it's hard to wrap your brain around on the medical terminology being thrown at you, said Elliot. She also said once you get home and have a chance to digest the diagnosis, listen to the recording and then formulate questions for next time you see your doctor.
Elliot hopes to start a support group here so patients have somewhere close to go for support. She knows that support is key with a cancer diagnosis.
"I can remember my mom saying when she had brain cancer that being around other cancer patients made her feel normal," said Elliot. "No one looked at her like she was the sick person. She was finally able to be the normal person."