Thrive by IU Health

May 28, 2021

Weathering the storm

IU Health Bloomington Hospital

Weathering the storm

On Aug. 8, 2020, Nasrin Hepfer received a phone call she’ll never forget. “It was the police telling me to go the ER,” Nasrin says. “My husband, Greg, had suffered a massive heart attack.” Greg passed away, and Nasrin fell into a deep depression. “I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t believe it.”

As Nasrin said goodbye to her husband of 33 years, she also discovered she had breast cancer. “After my diagnosis, my daughter took me to the Olcott Center,” Nasrin remembers. “I’m so glad she did.”

Located in Bloomington, the IU Health Olcott Center for Cancer Education opened in 1998, offering support for patients with all forms of cancer. Their secret weapon: nurse navigators.

Nurse navigators are oncology certified specialists who help patients and their loved ones understand and manage the complex emotional and physical challenges of cancer — from providing counseling services to arranging prosthetic breast fittings. For a widow like Nasrin, whose two children live in Australia and Virginia, the center was a godsend.

“Everybody was so kind,” Nasrin says. “They gave me grocery and gas money, wigs and hats. I couldn’t believe such an organization existed. I was so happy there was somewhere for me to go.”

Nasrin cites compassion as the greatest gift the IU Health Olcott Center gave. “I had eight rounds of chemo,” she notes. “My nurse, Julie, called me after every treatment asking how I was doing. It was so nice of her. My relatives didn’t even call me that often!”

When Nasrin was hospitalized in December following a seizure, she was unable to have visitors due to COVID-19 protocols. Julie sent a special blanket to keep her company. “It made me feel so blessed,” Nasrin says. “Who does that for someone they don’t know?”

Terri Acton, nurse manager, IU Health Olcott Center, RN, BSN, MS, understands how important her and her team’s work is to patients and their families.

“We are able to be a source of comfort, strength and knowledge for a patient when their world has turned upside down,” she says. “We help them make it through the storm.”

The IU Health Olcott Center’s free services are made possible by gifts from generous donors like Cathey Logue. In 1999, Logue was diagnosed with breast cancer. She attended a support group at the IU Health Olcott Center, where she learned about the financial hardships facing some of her fellow survivors.

“I sat there and wept,” Cathey recalls. “I thought, ‘How can I help these women? How can I be a good girlfriend?’” Logue established the G.I.R.L. (Giving Individuals with cancer Resources out of Love) Friend Fund shortly thereafter. Twenty years later, the fund continues to make the arduous recovery journey easier for patients.

As Nasrin continues her treatment, she’s hopeful for what the future holds. “I try to think positive,” she says. “I told my kids they’ve already lost their father and I don’t want them to lose their mother.”

If you’d like to invest in the cancer program to help patients like Nasrin through their cancer journey, visit our donation page. When the dropdown window appears, select IU Health Bloomington Hospital as the location and Olcott Center as the beneficiary.

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