If you are wanting to quit smoking, Robin Saxon has been there before. A nurse navigator and a former smoker herself, Robin now educates patients and encourages them to stop using tobacco, even after several attempts.
“You can be a quitter!” she shares.
Robin also oversees other nurse navigators from Mercy Health – Fairfield Hospital. Together they counsel tobacco users and recommend annual lung screenings to spot any cancerous mass – the sooner, the better.
“You want to catch lung cancer when it’s smallest,” Robin explains. Diagnosing lung cancer in early stages helps a patient no matter what treatment their doctor recommends: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or immunotherapy.
Robin’s empathy in working with patients recently earned her recognition as a finalist in the provider category of the Cincinnati Business Courier’s 2022 Health Care Heroes awards. Receiving empathy from others drew her to nursing more than 30 years ago.
“Growing up in a poverty-stricken community in Middletown, Ohio, I experienced empathy from a nurse who worked at the health department where my family went for our vaccines,” Robin recalls. “She explained being a nurse can make you feel like you are making a difference in the lives of others.”
Robin and nurse navigators are doing just that, either one-on-one or through online programs.
“It’s very important that we don’t make our patients feel condemned for smoking,” she says. “The goal of lung cancer screening is to enable detection of lung cancer before it has spread. Treatment can then be provided, which may reduce the likelihood of dying from lung cancer. However, lung cancer screening doesn’t prevent the development of lung cancer. The best ways to reduce the risk of lung cancer are to not start smoking cigarettes, to quit if you smoke and to avoid secondhand smoke.”
Robin often shares her own experience using tobacco with her patients.
“I know what people are going through,” she explains. “I think that’s part of the passion behind getting them not to smoke.”
In fact, it was her 7-year-old son who inspired Robin to quit years ago.
“I set my plan in motion. I picked the date. I told the people I purchased my cigarettes from that I was going to quit smoking. I told all my friends here at work I was going to quit smoking, too.”
And then the day came. It was Jan. 1, 2000.
“I remember getting up at 1:30 the next morning,” Robin recalls. “I went to the counter where I would get cigarettes to go outside to smoke. And I picked up the package and said, ‘What am I doing?!’ Tobacco had such a hold on me.”
Looking back today, Robin says “it was the worst thing I ever did in my life, to start smoking. And it was the best thing I ever did in my life to quit.”
Robin went on to receive her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a doctorate, then continued her education to become a nurse practitioner.
“I know there’s nothing I can’t do,” she says confidently.