Breast Cancer specialist Elaine Shaw from Lisburn is the first ever Breast Oncology Clinical Nurse
A LISBURN woman has taken on a new post created at the City Hospital and funded by Friends of the Cancer Centre which could help to change for the better the way women are supported through the trauma of breast cancer treatment.
Breast Cancer specialist Elaine Shaw is the first ever Breast Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Cancer Centre.
She will become the personal link or 'key worker' for women as they emerge from breast surgery and move into the next stage of their treatment, providing a point of contact, information, guidance and support.
Elaine, who is one of the most experienced nurses working in the cancer centre, will also help patients find new ways to take back control of their lives at the end of treatment.
Elaine, who has 20 years' experience and expertise in oncology, latterly as Ward Sister, said: "When someone first tells you that you have cancer it's like being hit by a bus. Almost before you have time to adjust to the initial shock, treatment has started and you're caught up in events.
"Often fear of the unknown is the worst aspect. Stories about other people, confusing snippets from the internet, well meaning but often misplaced advice...they all combine to add to the confusion.
"For the future I will be here to help patients understand their own individual cancer journey and to help them handle it as they wish. In my experience, providing patients with information and education helps them to understand what may lie ahead and enables them to begin to manage their own life again."
Elaine is a firm believer in a holistic approach. For her providing support can range from taking time to explain treatment to helping a patient find ways to relax and de-stress, manage family commitments or even to pointing them to where they can access grants. Anything that alleviates anxiety is important, she believes, and she is eager to pilot schemes which allow women to focus on well being.
She added: "One example is educating women to care for themselves and recognise the various signs that may mean they need to come back to see the medical team. This allows them to regain confidence and control of their lives and also ensures that any potential problems are identified and checked out early.
"I'm hopeful that here we'll also move towards senior cancer nurses becoming more involved in managing the patient's chemotherapy treatment through working m close conjunction with the senior medical team. This will not only allow consultants to concentrate on more complex cases, it will also reassure women that things are progressing as they should."
It's a tough remit for Elaine, but she clearly relishes the challenge and the opportunity to help other women. She said, "Usually Friends of Cancer Centre buy equipment or fund projects - it's nice that, this time around, Friends is funding a person. I am very proud to have the role and the fact that it has been funded by goodwill and generosity of others really adds to my sense of commitment."