by Craig Boerner
A philanthropic gift of a patient care coordinator designated to assist female bladder cancer patients in education, clinical decision-making, surveillance, support and even screening, is the first of its kind at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Brianne “Bree” Duncan, research nurse specialist III, is the first recipient of the Gail Kraemer Care Coordinator for Female Bladder Cancer Patients position created by a generous gift from patient and donor, Gail Kraemer.
Kraemer has given money in an endowed fund specifically for female bladder cancer patients and to help fund a patient care coordinator to advocate specifically for female bladder cancer patients.
“This position is truly unique and offers specialized attention and care to an underserved population,” said Sam Chang, MD, MBA, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Urology and Oncology.
“This program led and coordinated by Bree will provide education resources, information and support. More importantly it provides reassurance and guidance for what may happen in the future,” he said.
Duncan, who started in her new role on June 1, received her nursing degree from William Rainey Harper College in the suburbs of Chicago where she worked as a pediatric nurse, caring for urology and transplant patients.
She moved to Nashville in 2013 and has been with Vanderbilt Urology for eight years, first as a clinic lead nurse before switching into her current role as a research nurse.
She will now be spending time with different services to get a multidisciplinary view and expanded knowledge base to prepare for the new role.
“I will have a learning curve, but I see how much having an identified, supportive person to answer specific questions can benefit the patients. I want to help them through their process of figuring out the next steps, their options and what to expect,” Duncan said.
“I think, especially for a patient who is getting their bladder removed, they have even more fears and questions. Being able to help them answer questions and be more accessible is one of the most important roles for me,” she added.
Chang said Duncan will be available for female bladder cancer patients anywhere along the disease spectrum — initial screening, clinical visits, study enrollment, pre-operative care, post-operative care and in the hospital.
“We also are planning to set up a model of data accumulation, study establishment, and hope to use this program as a role model for other cancer programs. I also envision Bree speaking at regional and national meetings and to patient advocacy groups about what we are offering uniquely at Vanderbilt,” said Chang, also chief surgical officer for Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.
“It is an opportunity to set up a supportive care network above and beyond anything that currently exists. The vision that Bree has with Mrs. Kraemer is that women shouldn’t have to struggle to find answers to simple questions and to make decisions. Bree and others in the future in this role will have a unique and comprehensive knowledge base to advocate for the patient.”