I’m Jess Grout and I started a Summer internship with Wessex Cancer Support in July, working on a project to bring our new befriending service to Andover. I was inspired to apply for the internship by my Mum, Jo, who works as a cancer care nurse, so I decided to share her story about how Wessex Cancer Support supports her and her patients.
Jo’s been nursing for 27 years, with 20 of those working on the Piam Brown children’s cancer care ward and the following seven years supporting teenagers and young adults. As she prepares to begin her new role as lead nurse of teenage and young adult cancer care for the Wessex Region (Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight), she reflects on what it’s been like to work in this area of nursing.
“Working with people is what I enjoy most,” Jo tells me. “Being able to work with families and spend time with them during a very tough time in their lives is both challenging and rewarding. The tough times are balanced by the extremely rewarding nature of my role, which builds a strength within you that proves invaluable when it comes to helping people.”
Jo has faced many challenges throughout her cancer care career, most recently with the Covid-19 pandemic which has had a profound effect on cancer services. Pressures on the NHS led to many late diagnoses and many people felt too scared to seek help or felt anxious about whether services could be accessed safely. There have been widespread disruptions across the cancer care pathway – screening, referrals, diagnostic and treatment services have all seen reductions in activity. People coming into hospital for treatment felt incredibly anxious about the risk of Covid-19.
“We refer patients to Wessex Cancer Support all the time,” Jo tells me, describing how useful it is to have a charity like Wessex Cancer Support to lean on when patients need further emotional support.
“The current high demand for counselling, particularly amongst cancer patients and their families, can prevent people from getting the help they need.” She explained how this impacts the people she cares for, especially as cancer patients can already feel apprehensive about accessing support.
“My patients often recognise that counselling would be helpful, but it can be quite nerve-wracking to make the initial move. Being able to refer them to Wessex Cancer Support, knowing they will be supported and will get the specific and personal support they need is a huge comfort to those of us who work in cancer care. It’s also reassuring to know Wessex Cancer Support provides other services, like complementary therapies and support groups, and I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact these have on my patients.
“Whatever my patients are feeling, it’s reassuring to know the team at Wessex Cancer Support is there to listen, offer support and help them work through the complex feelings that come with having cancer.”
Are you a healthcare professional interested in finding out how Wessex Cancer Support can support your patients? We’d be delighted to show you around your nearest Support CentreClick here to find your nearest Centre, or give us a call on 023 8067 2200