The Gazette is partnering with title sponsor Penrose-St. Francis Breast Care Center and ribbon sponsor Peak Vista Community Health Centers to bring you inspiring stories of local breast cancer survivors and a behind-the-scenes look at the care process from physicians, surgeons, nurses and volunteers throughout October.
Sharon Halla loves her job. “I get the privilege to work with some amazing people making tough decisions during painful times.”
Halla, RN, BSN, OCN, CBCN, is a Breast Care Nurse Navigator at the Penrose Cancer Center, part of the Centura Health Cancer Network, delivering advanced, integrated cancer care across Colorado and western Kansas. She also works closely with the team at the Breast Care Clinic in Evans Army Community Hospital at Fort Carson.
While Evans has a breast surgery team, it does not have an oncology team – that’s where Halla comes in. “The surgeons at Fort Carson like their patients to see a radiation oncologist and medical oncologist prior to surgery so they know all their options before going into the operating room,” Halla said. “I help set appointments up on the civilian side with the Penrose oncology team.”
Halla is proud of the support Penrose Cancer Center provides for local military families and has worked hard to build a quality, supportive relationship between Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and Fort Carson. “The military surgeons don’t always see their patients come back after sending them off base for other opinions, but I’ve proven we always send them back to the base for any necessary surgeries,” she said. “I also make sure patients have all the education and materials they need to help make treatment decisions. We ask that they make a lot of tough decisions, so I do my best to help guide patients and make it as easy as possible for the surgeons at Fort Carson to care for them.”
Halla, whose father retired from the Army as she entered high school, understands first-hand the intricacies of the military’s TRICARE health insurance plans and the unique stressors and dynamics military families face. “I think my experiences have definitely helped me guide patients through the system and understand the insurance process,” she said. “Our military folks are near and dear to my heart, and it’s a privilege to work with them and the team at Fort Carson. They’re just a great bunch of people.”
Each month, Halla and various oncologists from Penrose attend a tumor board review at Fort Carson with the Evans breast surgeons. “We discuss cases and possible treatment plans to help ensure patients are getting the best care,” she said. “It’s important to them and it’s important to Penrose that we care well for our military.”