Last update : september 2016

According to the Direction de la lutte contre le cancer (2008), the pivot nurse in oncology acts as a support resource for people living with cancer, from diagnosis right through the entire cancer experience, including treatments.

She is the person you must contact first if you have questions and concerns between your medical appointments. The pivot nurse will refer you to other members of the health care team or external resources, if need be.

To learn more about pivot nurses: 

  • Pivot nurses assess the resources and health needs of patients and the needs of their family, if relevant.
  • They educate patients on the disease, its treatments, its impact and on the follow-up they will need in the short, intermediate and long term.
  • They help patients navigate the care and services available and refer them to other health care professionals or community resources that can best meet their needs.
  • They provide support to people with cancer and their loved ones.
  • They ensure the coordination and continuity of care among all members of the health care team.

Before your appointment

  • Prepare your questions in advance and write them down, if possible. See the list of sample questions.
  • Bring your list of medications and your “Oncology Passport” health booklet (if you have received it).
  • Ask someone to come with you to take notes.
  • Contact the Info-Cancer services if you need help preparing for your appointment. 

During the appointment

  • Make sure you understand when, how and why to contact the pivot nurse.

After your appointment

  • Write relevant information obtained from the pivot nurse
Info-cancer nurses Brigitte Fournier and Louise Plaisance have prepared the following list of sample questions you may want to ask your pivot nurse. Both Brigitte and Louise worked for many years as pivot nurses in Quebec City.

Cancer and its treatment

  • When can I talk to you and why would I? Please give me examples.
  • Can you remind me of the stage of my disease? What is TNM staging?
  • Can you explain my treatment schedule and how long it will last?
  • Can you describe what my day at the cancer clinic/in preoperative planning/radiation therapy planning will look like?
  • How will I know my cancer is getting better after the treatments?
  • Will I be able to go on vacation during the course of my treatment?
  • Will I be able to babysit my grandchildren during my treatment?
  • Will I be able to keep working during my treatment?
  • Can I come to my treatments by myself? Do I need someone to come with me?
  • Should I be on a special diet during my treatment?
  • What can I expect after surgery?
  • When will I be able to go back to my activities/work?
  • Will I need more treatments after?
  • Will I be able to keep exercising during my treatment?

Problems living with cancer (Feel free to talk about your fears and worries)

  • I need to talk to someone. Can I come and see you between my treatments?
  • Why do you screen for distress?
  • Why do you do an initial assessment of needs?

Resources available

  • What resources are available to me (example: psychological support, transportation, home care, financial aid)?
  • What should I do if I don’t feel well when the cancer clinic is closed?
  • Who are the members of your interdisciplinary team of professionals?
  • What community organizations can help me?
  • Do you have a list of their services?

To learn more

For more information about the role of pivot nurses or for help getting ready for your appointment, call the Info-Cancer Hotline (1 800 363-0063) to speak with a nurse or documentalist.

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