Dianna Petrick, OPN-CG • CHW
Senior Certified Patient Navigator
As I get ready to retire from the BCRC as a Patient Navigator, I think that how fast the time has flown….
In the fall of 2006 I walked into the BCRC offices at the old St David’s Health Resource Center located at 3000 N. IH 35. We had been given free space and occupied a room at one end of the building and the library at the other end. My desk was in an interesting space…in a hallway on a landing. The building had been a funeral home long ago… and really always had a strange vibe to me.
I had been hired as the Volunteer Coordinator with some side duties in Client Services. Working for a non-profit was definitely different. I had previously worked at a job that had over 500 employees – here I think that I became the 8th!
That was during the time that we still had our Champagne brunch and it was my first time to see the impact the BCRC had on so many women. My training included being glued to the hip of Ray Anne Evans learning everything. Our former executive director, Alice Wilson spent a lot of time helping me become a group facilitator and preparing me for our classes – Coping with Breast Cancer which was held for 8 weeks in the evenings and the couple’s/partner’s class – Navigating Breast Cancer Together that was offered on Friday nights.
We were fortunate to be able to move with the Breast Center into some newly renovated space at Park St David and were given a nice office in Suite 108 and had use of the new library as well. In addition, we had a 9 x 12 office in the Breast Center where Ray Anne, Veda and I all had our desks. Surprisingly, we did not kill each other.
It was also the beginning of our involvement during biopsies that were done in the Breast Center. We are so grateful to the many surgeons – especially Dr. Kelly Martinez, Dr. Jane Nelson, and Dr. Nancy Marquez and eventually the many interventional radiologists for allowing us to be part of their team and be in the room when the biopsy procedures were done – providing support and a calming presence.
In 2008 Alice asked me to move over to St David’s NAMC in the new Women’s Center of Texas that was just opening – we were again given free space. I still remember Ray Anne saying (after dropping off my computer and boxes of books) “You can do this – you just have to figure it out.” Suddenly, I was on my own – without my coworkers and I was challenged to become an effective patient navigator and an asset to the new women’s center.
During my eight years there, I met and navigated many women – each with their own set of needs. Some women would just drop in – frantic – grateful that the BCRC was there. Once again, I attended women’s biopsies and would meet them when they arrived – breaking the ice before the procedure and holding their hand during the biopsy…trying to provide just a little re-assurance to them. If they were ultimately diagnosed with breast cancer, I would try to see how I could help.
I really enjoy being part of the BCRC support circles and have met many lovely women. I began facilitating several circles – the Northwest, the IV League, and the North circle. In 2013
I took over a group in Lakeway which currently still averages 10 women every month.
During my time at NAMC I conducted several Coping with Breast Cancer classes and got to arrange for a few doctors to speak at our Educate and Empower series in the large auditorium in the hospital.
We were asked to become the beneficiary for their annual balloon release honoring survivors and remembering those we have lost to breast cancer. Every year since a BCRC client will tell their story at their event and then everyone releases pink and white bio-compatible balloons into the sky.
I have also served on two of St David’s Cancer Committees and attended many tumor boards at several hospitals in Austin and Round Rock representing how the BCRC, a non-profit agency, adds to the continuum of care for a newly diagnosed patient.
In 2016 it was time to let go of our free space at NAMC and a short time later at Park St. David. We made our new home on Medical Arts Street in two really quirky and cozy offices – it worked for us until early 2017 when we outgrew it – we were now up to 14 employees.
Today, thanks to our Executive Director, Ray Anne Evans unwavering vision, we have a welcoming space on Spicewood Springs Road that women love to come to – they feel safe and cared for. We conduct circles here, one on one consultations and offer After Breast Cancer classes. We also have a great space on Main Street in Round Rock that offers these services as well.
The BCRC has a great team in place and have just had the most successful Art Bra Austin event ever and led by Elizabeth, Phyllis and Nik– it has come a long way since that first GRAPHIC event held in the Design Center at Penn Field so long ago.
Runi has been stellar in directing our many programs and grants submissions with Ray Anne. Our accountant and business manager, Alta has always looked out for us as we make our way as a non-profit. Rhonda has a natural touch in being able to manage the many wonderful volunteers that we have in our world.
But it’s the Navigation team that I know I will miss the most – Marj, Elaine, Jessica, Karyn, Melissa, Angelica and our newest – Mary Ellen. These are the women I have been in the trenches with…they have my admiration and have been my support. They are the heart and soul of the BCRC and work tirelessly (self-care is a frequent topic for us) every day to try to help women whose lives have been suddenly turned upside down from a diagnosis of breast cancer.
I feel privileged to have been able to meet so many women at their most vulnerable time in life, and I am thankful that they have felt comfortable enough to allow me to assist them wherever their diagnosis led them.
I will always be grateful for the opportunity the BCRC gave me to learn to become the patient navigator I am today.