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UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

WeCARE! Peer Navigator Program — New Patient Support

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Dr. Marlene von Friedrichs-Fitzwater © UC RegentsThe WeCARE! Community-Based Cancer Peer Navigator program provides special support on a one-to-one basis. It matches newly diagnosed cancer patients with trained cancer survivors. The WeCARE! program is available to any newly diagnosed cancer patient, regardless of where the patient receives treatment.

Peer navigators are survivors who have been trained to be “cancer coaches.” They will provide information on your disease and treatment options, as well as resources to help you and those you love. They are also trained to assist you with problem-solving and coping strategies. If desired, a peer navigator can go with you to your doctor’s visit or treatments.

Our patients tell us . . .

“The information that was provided to me was exactly what I needed to feel less anxious and scared when I met with the surgeon.”

“It has been so reassuring to have someone with me during treatments who has survived cancer and who can help me on this journey. I don’t feel so alone.”

Thoughtfully designed by Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater, who is also a cancer survivor and a faculty member of the UC Davis School of Medicine, the UC Davis WeCARE! program is unique in that a peer navigator can be assigned to you for up to three to six months to see you through treatment.



WeCARE! peer navigator with cancer patient © UC RegentsThe UC Davis We CARE! Cancer Peer Navigator program currently has Peer Navigators available for breast, prostate, bladder, leukemia/lymphoma, lung and colon cancer patients.

Additionally, the program is expanding to help patients diagnosed with other types of cancer, including those that affect younger individuals between ages 15 and 40.


To learn more and request a Cancer Peer Navigator, please contact the following:

For female and breast cancer patients
Contact Marcie Ellis at 916-734-5786 or by email.

For male cancer patients:
Contact Ruben Gonzalez by email.

WeCARE! peer navigator with cancer patient © 2010 UC RegentsThe UC Davis We CARE! Cancer Peer Navigator program relies on cancer survivors who want to become volunteer cancer coaches and mentors for newly diagnosed patients. 

As a Cancer Peer Navigator, you will learn how to assist cancer patients through the diagnosis and treatment process. Your role is to help cancer patients learn strategies to reduce anxiety, solve problems, understand and cope with treatment options. Many of our Cancer Peer Navigators have discovered working with new patients is a very rewarding and fulfilling experience.

Who is eligible to become a Cancer Peer Navigator?

All Cancer Peer Navigators must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Be a cancer survivor who completed treatments at least two years ago
  • Have access to a personal computer and email to use our customized software to work with patients
  • Complete a short screening interview to demonstrate good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Complete a one-day training and be available for monthly update meetings
  • Availability to work with a patient for up to three to six months

What is the time commitment to be a Cancer Peer Navigator?

Many of our Cancer Peer Navigators are able to actively work with a patient while working full-time, taking time for raising a family and continuing on with life events such as vacations and retirements. During the process of becoming a Cancer Peer Navigator you will provide information on your availability. Some patients will need a lot of assistance from their Cancer Peer Navigator, which may include going to treatments or doctor’s appointments. Other patients may just need a Cancer Peer Navigator to meet or talk on the phone with on occasion. Before assigning new patients to a Cancer Peer Navigator, we take all these needs into consideration. We do require that all Cancer Peer Navigators attend a minimum of two full days of training per year (held on Saturdays) and attend a monthly meeting.

What if I don’t live near Sacramento and I didn’t complete my treatment at UC Davis?

Cancer Peer Navigators do not need to be former patients of UC Davis, and we have a variety of Cancer Peer Navigators who have received treatments around California and out of state.  Even if you live a far distance from Sacramento, you can still participate. We have many patients who live in outlying areas of Northern California who could really use your mentorship and guidance.

To learn more about becoming a Cancer Peer Navigator:

Contact Patti Robinson at 916-734-0823 or by email.

WeCARE peer navigator supportAlthough the UC Davis WeCARE! Cancer Peer Navigator program was created at UC Davis, Dr. von Friederichs-Fitzwater offers it to other cancer centers and hospitals. The following locations also have WeCARE! Cancer Peer Navigators available:

South Sacramento Kaiser Permanente:
Contact Claudia DeYoung, M.D., Breast Health Leader, 916-688-6597 or by email.

Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Cancer Center (Truckee, CA): Contact Ann Ajari, M.S.W., 530-582-6450 or by email.