A new nurse, funded by Breast Cancer Foundation NZ (BCFNZ), is playing a huge role in helping women in Canterbury to recover from a breast cancer diagnosis.
Katherine King is Canterbury’s first oncology clinical nurse specialist dedicated to breast cancer, thanks to an innovative new partnership between BCFNZ and Canterbury DHB. Based at Christchurch Hospital, Katherine provides support to patients who have finished hospital treatment.
“We know patients often feel adrift after being discharged from hospital care. My role is to help people navigate their way through the next phase of their breast cancer journey, as they transition back to the care of their GP,” says Katherine.
“Most women diagnosed with breast cancer require ongoing hormone treatment, which often comes with difficult side effects. Many also struggle to deal with physical and emotional changes after surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy. By liaising between patients and other healthcare professionals, I can make sure women can access the services they need, quickly.
“It’s fantastic to be able to make a real difference by providing people with the tools they need to take control of their own health,” Katherine adds.
Breast Cancer Foundation NZ decided to create this new role to address the lack of dedicated breast cancer oncology nurses in Canterbury. The charity was able to fund the position after a person living in Canterbury left the organisation a gift in their Will.
BCFNZ chief executive, Ah-Leen Rayner, says the investment reflects the charity’s commitment to improving breast cancer care across the region: “Thanks to a generous donor, we’re able to provide a dedicated nurse to help women in Canterbury manage their long-term recovery from breast cancer.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Canterbury DHB to help ease the pressures in complex cancer care and build on their existing services. The aim is to make sure people affected by breast cancer in the region get the best possible support, and we’ve modelled this role on successful approaches taken overseas.”
Debra Hamilton, nursing director for Haematology, Oncology and Palliative Care at Christchurch Hospital, says: “Often people find it hard to get back into the system after being discharged. It’s wonderful to be able to address this problem, in partnership with BCFNZ, by forging stronger links between GPs and breast cancer specialists in the hospital. This pivotal role ensures women have the right support in place to live well after breast cancer.”