Q & A with Tara Foote
Research nurse, Providence Cancer Center
What exactly does a research nurse do?
I describe it as almost being a nurse navigator for clinical trials. I’m involved with the process of identifying patients, getting them screened and preparing them for trial. Once they’re in a trial, I’m their main point of contact for scheduling. If a trial ends because a disease gets worse, I help identify a new trial or other options. I educate patients regarding general timelines of trials, medications, side effects and how to manage side effects. I help connect the dots between things like integrative health, social work and guest housing.
Are all your patients local?
It’s not uncommon for people to seek us out. I have a broad base of patients who travel from out of state. They have lot of needs they aren’t able to navigate because they aren’t from the area. I help connect them to the supportive care they need.
What drew you to this position?
Providence is on the forefront of immunotherapy. Immunotherapy helps the immune system see the cells that are not supposed to be there and kill them. Traditional chemotherapy works by targeting the DNA of cancer cells, but it’s like a shotgun, not a sniper.
Sometimes we are the very first site to administer medications to people. Providence has embraced this new way of treating cancer patients and providing a new opportunity to hope.
You're going to be cared for and cared about. You’re not just a number."
-Tara Foote, R.N.
What would you tell a patient considering a clinical trial?
There’s a patient fear of being treated like a lab rat. I quite often hear comments of how that’s not true to the experience. Patients feel like there’s a team of people who care about them, and they just happen to be part of the research. The team of doctors we work with have not just some of the most brilliant minds, but also some of the biggest hearts. The care that patients receive here is extraordinary. What you’re doing has meaningful impact especially for you and for all the people who come after you.
Is there a patient you still think about?
There is a patient who was referred to us after her disease had progressed. I was able to get her on a study and she initially responded strongly. She had pretty rapid tumor reduction. The day she got the news that her tumor was shrinking was when I first met her daughter. Everybody was tearful. She said it was the first time anybody had given her good news since she was diagnosed. Being a part of that moment made me feel like I was in the right place.