Nov 19, 2019 Cancer: Where to Call for Help

Now there's a single phone number for clear and compassionate answers about cancer treatment.

Cancer survivors ride the runaway mine train coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure

When a person is diagnosed with cancer, he or she has a lot to learn—and many decisions to make. What’s the best course of treatment? Where is the best place for treatment? Who is the best doctor to treat my cancer? How can I get a second opinion?

That’s why RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH), in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, has created an Oncology Access Center. This concierge-like service for cancer patients has an easy-to-remember number: 844-CANCERNJ. At that number, specialized oncology access representatives and oncology access nurse navigators stand ready to direct patients to the expert care they need. The Oncology Access Center creates one point of contact for all oncologists and hospitals in the RWJBH system and at Rutgers Cancer Institute.

“We are well aware that people who are newly diagnosed or seeking a second opinion are dealing with an extremely stressful personal situation,” says Steven K. Libutti, MD, Senior Vice President of Oncology Services, RWJBH and Director of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. “We want to make the process of finding care as stress-free and efficient as possible.”

In the past, Dr. Libutti explains, patients and caregivers needed to do extensive research on their own to figure out what location and what physician would be most appropriate for their care. “Now they can more easily access NCI-designated cancer care across the state,” he says.

Navigating the journey

“We’re especially excited to have nurse navigators located right at the contact center if a person has a clinical question,” says Bryan Soltes, System Vice President, Network Development, Oncology Services for RWJBH. “That aspect of our system makes it uniquely helpful to patients.”

When a caller is referred to a specific hospital, he or she is immediately linked to the nurse navigator platform at the hospital, Soltes says. “Nurse navigators guide patients through their entire journey of diagnosis, treatment and recovery, not only making appointments but connecting the patient with oncology support services,” he explains.

“Our system is making a very big commitment to nurse navigation in general,” Soltes says. “Our goal is to be the largest nurse navigation system for oncology in the country.”

Experts at RWJBH recognize that oncology health care calls are different from other kinds of calls. “They are often from people dealing with potentially serious situations,” Soltes says. “With our Oncology Access Center and nurse navigator programs, we’re able to put our arms around the patient, so to speak, and say, ‘We’ll help you take it from here.’”

Raise your hands for survivors

Cancer survivors and their families ride the runaway train at Six Flags Great AdventureLife can be a roller coaster, especially when a person is coping with cancer. That made it especially fitting for three iconic New Jersey brands—RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH), Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Six Flags Great Adventure—to create the Coasters for Cancer campaign.

Brightly colored handprints were collected from cancer survivors and supporters. Those handprints were wrapped into a design to adorn the Runaway Mine Train roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township. When park visitors take the ride, they’re reminded of how many people cancer touches in the state of New Jersey.

The campaign was unveiled during a National Cancer Survivors Day Celebration at Six Flags Great Adventure on June 9. “More people need to know about the disease and about the research that’s being done right in our own backyard,” says John DeSimone, a patient at Rutgers Cancer Institute.

“What I hope people get out of this display is that cancer doesn’t discriminate,” says cancer survivor Johnny Volpe, 17, who was diagnosed when he was just 7. “Cancer goes for anyone and everyone, and it’s great that people are aware.”

“The Coasters for Cancer campaign is an incredible opportunity to shine the spotlight on cancer survivorship, education and prevention,” says Justin Edelman, Senior Vice President, Corporate Partnerships, RWJBH. “If this campaign helps just one person, it’s all worth it.”

RWJBarnabas Health, in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey—the state’s only NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center—provides close-to-home access to the latest treatment, including clinical trials. Visit

The Oncology Access Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call 844.CANCERNJ (844.226.2376).