Monday 19th February 2018
Teenage Cancer Trust Nurses are professionally trained to know how to communicate with young people with cancer, working in partnership with the local cancer teams.
They involve them in decisions about their care instead of just being informed about them, cutting through medical jargon, and treating them as a young person first, cancer patient second. They also recognise the importance of peer support, and bring young people together to support eachother.
The initiative has supported Teenage Cancer Trust nurses to work in local hospitals across the South West in Truro, Plymouth, Exeter, Taunton, Bath and Gloucester, so that young people who are not treated on the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit in Bristol, can receive specialist care in their local hospital or their own home.
Rosie was 22 when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Her daughter was six months old and the nature of her treatment would require her to spend time in hospital isolation. She was treated locally at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital which kept her close to her young family, where she received additional support from Lorraine, Teenage and Young Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist, based at the hospital.
After receiving my diagnosis, I went into complete meltdown. I attended my first appointment with the consultant, and it was at this point where I met Lorraine. She introduced herself, and explained what was happening to me in a way that was easy to understand, avoiding jargon completely. Lorraine told me about the support she would be able to offer, which extended to helping me find childcare, and introducing me to other young people with cancer in the local area at what we call the ‘peer support events’, usually a meal at a restaurant.
“The first peer support event made me feel normal for the first time in a very long time. To meet other people who are also going through probably the hardest thing they ever will makes you feel like you are not alone. The nights out are great because the cancer barely comes into it. It’s a few hours where young adults can just have a laugh and meet new friends going through the same thing, share experiences, offer advice, and be 'normal'.
Lorraine, Teenage Cancer Trust Clinical Liaison Nurse said,
There are many reasons why patients might not be treated on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit in Bristol, such as the physical distance, being apart from their family or support network, or financial reasons. This means that they'll be treated on paediatric or adult wards, without specialist age-appropriate support, but having Teenage Cancer Trust nurses in local hospitals changes that. An important aspect, unique to the service, is peer support. It brings young people together who may never have met another person their age with cancer.