A Bayhealth nurse helps women dealing with breast cancer.

Guiding Light: Trisha Bentley

Tuesday, October 4, 2022 | Women's & Children's

When patients see Trisha Bentley, BSN, RN, it’s often due to a suspicious lump or because something on their mammogram caught a radiologist’s eye.

“My clients are coming in for results that may or may not change their life,” said Bentley, a nurse navigator for diagnostic imaging at Bayhealth Women’s Center, Kent Campus. “So I sit with them and I listen to what the doctor has to say. I help them through the process of getting to a biopsy, and I try to do the legwork for them on the side.”

If a patient receives a cancer diagnosis, Bentley is there to answer questions and offer support. She’s seen multiple generations of the same family—perhaps a mother and then later on, her daughter. Some patients aren’t diagnosed with cancer but turn to Bentley for help for their post-screening needs.

As a cancer survivor herself, Bentley understands what it feels like to be a patient. “One of the most difficult things for young survivors—I was 42 [when I was diagnosed]—is when you have children who depend on you, and then you’re down after surgery and different treatments. It’s very humbling to accept help.”

So when patients need to talk, Bentley lends an empathetic ear. “I always try to be another sounding board if they have concerns,” she said. “If they need to cry, we let them cry. And if they want to leave right away and come talk about it later, we let them do that too. Most clients that are coming here I consider my friends.”

Bentley says patients benefit from a skilled, caring team at the Women’s Center. “I give a lot of credit to the kindness and compassion shown by everyone from our front desk people to the technologists to the doctors,” she said.

While the pandemic caused many women to postpone their breast cancer screenings, Bentley encourages them to forgive themselves. “I have a lot of patients who hang their head when they’re getting bad news, and say, ‘Oh, gosh, I should have been here sooner, but life got in my way,’ ” Bentley said. “You can’t worry about what happened yesterday. We need your energy to be focused on how we’re going to fix this.” Happily, breast cancer treatment is more advanced than ever, with highly individualized treatment plans.

Bentley encourages women to get annual screenings beginning at age 40 and suggests that younger women with a family history of breast cancer talk to their doctor about earlier screenings. The Bayhealth Cancer Institute provides grant funding for uninsured and underinsured patients to reduce out-of-pocket costs for yearly screenings with mammography and, if needed, diagnostic workups. Bentley also urges all women as well as men—who can get breast cancer—to come in for evaluation if they notice unusual lumps or thickenings in their chest.

Early detection leads to better outcomes, and Bentley is proof that diagnosis is the first step to healing. As she said, “When [patients] see me two years out and realize ‘I can get through this and still be myself?’—that is hope.”

Visit Bayhealth.org/Services/Womens-Childrens-Health/Breast-Health for more information on breast imaging services.