Northwest Community Hospital Nurse Navigator Plots Dual Course for Prostate Health, Running Passion

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Research shows that men with prostate cancer often choose not to talk about their disease, even with spouses. This is where Juli Aistars makes a difference as prostate nurse navigator at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Il., a Chicago suburb. Seeing men for consultation is only part of her job, though, as Aistars assists in scheduling tests, helps patients manage financial issues, explains treatment options, and finds referrals and second opinions. September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

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Juli Aistars, RN, APN

NCH offers the most advanced treatments for prostate cancer, such as the da Vinci robot, Calypso Radiation Therapy (“GPS for the Body”), CyberKnife and brachytherapy.

When she isn’t working as prostate nurse navigator at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Juli Aistars, RN, APN, is probably navigating the many miles of roads it takes to compete as an ultra-distance runner. She once ran 387 miles in six days, and in July became the first female runner to win the Vol State Road Race – a grueling ultramarathon that crosses the entire state of Tennessee from Missouri to Georgia.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, and as a prostate nurse navigator, Aistars helped develop NCH's prostate program. She is principal investigator for the study, “Quality of Life and Satisfaction with Treatment in Prostate Cancer Patients at a Community Hospital.”

Prostate cancer, the uncontrolled growth of malignant cells in the prostate gland, is the second most common cancer in men, aside from skin cancer. One in six men will be diagnosed during his lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.

Research shows that men with prostate cancer often choose not to talk about their disease, even with spouses. In fact, Aistars said some of her patients have told her, “I can’t believe I’m talking to a woman about this, it’s so personal!”

This is where Aistars makes a difference. Said one patient: “I had discussions with Juli on a number of sensitive topics about my life post-surgery. She clearly knew her data, but she also has a delivery style that gave me comfort and faith.” Seeing men for consultation is only part of her job. Aistars assists in scheduling tests, helps patients manage financial issues, explains treatment options, and finds referrals and second opinions.

Aistars said the most common concerns among men with prostate cancer include the emotional impact of learning one has cancer; the fear of side effects like erectile dysfunction and incontinence; managing family anxieties; recovery duration; and a general reluctance to express feelings.

“I find that what’s most important to men is my expertise in the field and my ability to listen and ask tough questions,” she said. “Because I’m an unbiased third party who works with many men in the exact same situation, it helps to create a level of trust that puts many men at ease.”

NCH offers the most advanced treatments for prostate cancer, such as the da Vinci robot, Calypso Radiation Therapy (“GPS for the Body”), CyberKnife and brachytherapy.

“For many patients, these advanced treatments offer greater precision, less discomfort, faster recovery and fewer side effects,” Aistars said. “But not every patient is a candidate for every treatment. It depends on factors like your age, general health and how early the cancer is detected. That’s why annual screenings are important.”

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