A new program is pairing cancer patients in rural Alberta with specially-trained nurses who help lead them through their battle with the disease.  

'Think just for some patients it’s overwhelming.' — Arlene Throness, cancer navigator

Alberta Health Services posted "cancer patient navigators’" in all 15 of its community cancer-care facilities.

"A cancer diagnosis can be a confusing and stressful event that gives rise to significant financial and practical problems, especially for Albertans who live outside of Edmonton and Calgary," said AHS cancer care nurse Linda Watson when the program launched last month.

Arlene Throness, a navigator at the hospital in High River, said her job is to help make sense of a cancer diagnosis and steer patients to the right resources at the right time.

"I think just for some patients it’s overwhelming. You know they have a number of things going through their head. And initially all they hear is ‘you have cancer.’ They can call me," she said.

Jane Verot, a 44–year-old mother of two teenagers, was diagnosed with breast cancer last November. She said she values Throness’ medical expertise and her connections.

"It makes me feel that I'm being cared for, and, yeah, she's a good person," she said.

The Alberta Cancer Foundation is funding the program until next March.