Friday, March 2, 2018


I am pleased and honored to have Alene Nitzky as my guest author today. She is a registered nurse whose book "Navigating the C" is one for every person facing such a diagnosis. Please give her a warm welcome. She will be delighted to answer any questions or comments you might have.

Navigating the C: A Nurse Charts the Course for Cancer Survivorship Care is a broad look at cancer survivorship within healthcare. I wrote Navigating the C because I wanted to shed light on why the experience of a cancer diagnosis can be more traumatic and confusing than it needs to be, give readers a glimpse of how healthcare operates behind the scenes and how it affects cancer care, and provide solutions for everyone involved, regardless of their role in healthcare.

Despite an overabundance of information online, there is an enormous of misinformation among the public when it comes to cancer. Health literacy, in general, is lacking, but cancer literacy is even worse. There are too many opportunities to obtain misleading information that can interfere with getting expeditious care when it really matters.

                         Excerpt from Chapter 7, Anchors in the Sand-The Rest of Us

“If you’ve never had cancer, why should you even think about it? ...there is a massive gap between understanding, knowledge, and action when it comes to health, self-care skills, quality of life, and serious illness. This gap, no doubt, contributes to high U.S. healthcare costs and is detrimental to the quality of care we receive.
“As it turns out, we do think about cancer often because we are constantly reminded of it- except we think it happens to someone else. Many people do not think about their health until a crisis ensues…
“We educate kids on how to succeed in the working world, but we do not teach them how to become healthy adults who can competently navigate the healthcare system and prevent chronic disease.”

I want to educate the public at all levels- regardless of their role in healthcare, because we all have a stake in its outcomes. I also want to provoke thought and action about shortcomings and solutions among those who work in healthcare, because how we operate directly affects the end-users of our services. 

My audience is foremost the cancer patients and survivors, families and caregivers, as well as ordinary citizens who have never had cancer. The book provides skills for practice around advocating for oneself in the healthcare system, and what is needed before, during and after a cancer diagnosis. Most people never think about the BEFORE, but that alone can make a difference in reducing the confusion about what to do first in case they or someone they love is diagnosed with cancer. If you think you can just rely on the healthcare system and your doctors to give you everything you need and make the decisions for you, you will be at a great disadvantage in getting the best possible outcome.

The other audience consists of the people who work in healthcare, the leaders- executives, administrators, policymakers, elected officials- many of whom do not have medical backgrounds and do not see the impact that their decisions have on the actual patients and families who use those services. Even when they or their families do need cancer care, they may not realize the shortcomings of the system because many of them have access to privileges and better health coverage than the average person.

Finally, for healthcare providers such as nurses, doctors, social workers, and other professionals involved in direct patient care, the high rates of burnout and distress in the industry necessitate a look at what we are really doing under the current system in serving patients’ real needs when they come to us for care. Providers must examine why they went into healthcare in the first place, and whether their current work is allowing them to do that. If their work is causing them undue distress, the book guides them to think about ways to achieve a better level of satisfaction and peace about their work.
The book has an extensive appendix that contains samples from three different skill-based education programs I have developed and am using in my community. All readers will gain self-advocacy and self-care skills and tips they can easily use. At the end, there is a short section for physically active people and athletes with cancer.  Because doctors often work with less healthy individuals, active people may not get their full range of needs addressed either when planning for treatment or in recovery.  This section guides them in seeking the help they will need to restore their function, quality of life, and a return to their sport or activity whenever possible.

Alene Nitzky, Ph.D, RN OCN is an oncology nurse, health coach and cancer exercise trainer. She is author of Navigating the C: A Nurse Charts the Course for Cancer Survivorship Care, available on Amazon at  She develops programs in the community for people with cancer and their caregivers and educates people about cancer to build public support and understanding around cancer-related issues. 
Find out more about her programs at A blogger, freelance writer, and accomplished ultraendurance runner, she lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.


  1. This is a topic that needs more information on I agree. When dealing with my moms cancer it was always the nurses helping with it and the information i had been given to the larger extent. Knowing what to do and how to handle the sitution would be a blessing for all involved. Great post and glad to know there is a book to help.

    1. I am very pleased to have "met" Alene and learn about the wonderful work she is doing. Thank you for sharing, D.L.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Healthcare professionals could do so much more for patients and families by educating them about ways to cope with the everyday life effects of cancer treatment. Life doesn't happen in a clinic. We need to change the healthcare system so that healing and medicine go together. -Alene

  3. Thank you for this message. Each person has a unique diagnosis and unique journey with cancer. I am a 13 years breast cancer survivor. After surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, 5 years of medicines and much more, I have learned that sometimes we just need a listening ear. There is so much misinformation about cancer and knowing where to turn and what to believe can be overwhelming. I look forward to reading this book. I am thankful to have caring, compassionate doctors and caregivers. My family and I continue to research cancer.

    1. Melissa, thank you for sharing about your journey with breast cancer. Cancer is cancer and all our journeys are similar. "Navigating the C" is an important book for everyone with any type of cancer.

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  5. Thank you for your comment, Melissa. I hope you enjoy the book. I hope that someday people can feel less alone and more supported and accepted when they are going through all that goes along with a cancer diagnosis. Of course it would be great to stop cancer in its tracks, but until that happens, we can do a much better job of caring.