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  • Nurses provide support, information and dispel the myths

    15 May 2015

    Cancer Council 13 11 20 information and support service receives more than 7,000 calls per year as the South Australian community seeks guidance, assurance and assistance with all things cancer-related.

    I’m a single mother and have been diagnosed with cancer, how do I tell my kids?

    Is it true that marijuana cures some cancers?

    Where can I learn about the treatment for the cancer I have been diagnosed with?

    These are just some of the types of questions among the thousands of calls that come through to Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 on an annual basis.

    Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 is staffed by experienced oncology nurses, many of whom also work in hospitals throughout the metropolitan area.

    Today is International Nurses Day and this service is a prime example of how nurses utilise their experience and expertise outside of hospital wards.

    The nurses clarify medical terms, procedures and treatments, inform about services available that may help or simply listen and talk with callers about their cancer experience.

    Cancer Council SA Chief Executive, Professor Brenda Wilson – a former nurse, said that the telephone support service is a valuable resource for many people who have had their lives affected by cancer.

    “With 25 South Australians diagnosed with cancer every day, the challenges of cancer becomes the sole focus for many people and their families,” Professor Wilson said.

    “We want people to know that they are not alone during this time and we are here to support them. 

    “Often people affected by cancer can feel upset, frightened and overwhelmed.

    “Whether it is someone diagnosed with cancer, someone who has lost a loved one or someone simply requiring more information, our Cancer Council Nurses are here to provide assistance.”

    Manager of Cancer Support at Cancer Council SA, Monica Byrnes, said that the nurses combine their own wealth of experience with a vast amount of information at their finger tips to address callers’ needs.

    “Our nurses understand the impact of cancer and can assist callers, which vary from someone with cancer, to a family member, friend, work colleague or carer,” Ms Byrnes said.

    “There are also many enquiries from people calling about the causes of cancer, how they can reduce their risk as well as stories people have heard about how cancer can be cured.

    “Our evidence-based approach addresses all of these queries and concerns.

    “International Nurses Day is a great time to acknowledge the amazing work that nurses do throughout the community and this information and support service is an example of how many nurses work beyond the hospitals to support and assist the community.”

    Malinda-Ro Koehn said that the assistance provided by calling 13 11 20 during her experience with breast cancer provided a huge amount of relief during what was a very stressful time.

    “I actually didn’t know that the service existed, but once I rang, the nurses were just so helpful and re-assuring which was really important for me,” Ms Koehn said.

    “I would often go to the doctor and come home thinking about things I should have asked. I would then call Cancer Council who were able to clarify things.

    “The nurses also helped me with the questions I should ask as well, because often I was in shock and it is a lot to take in when you’re with the doctor or surgeon.

    “Having nurses on the other end of the line was very comforting as they could answer questions, provide emotional support and also advise about other support services that are available.

    “I’d encourage anyone requiring support or information to use the service because having one resource able to provide this assistance makes things so much easier in a very stressful time.”

    For cancer information and support, please call our experienced nurses at Cancer Council 13 11 20, Monday to Friday, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm.


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