Holly's Clinical Nurse Specialist goes "above and beyond"

Skye, Teenage Cancer Trust’s Clinical Nurse Specialist for Jersey, has gone the extra mile for her patient Holly. Both of them spoke to us to share their experiences of Holly’s journey, and how Skye has been able to offer the best support possible.

Holly felt strangely relieved when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour aged 13. She’d been having seizures for two years, which doctors initially dismissed as being psychological. Her cancer diagnosis was the validation that she needed, to confirm her health concerns were not, as she says- “all in my head”.  

Skye Newton, Clinical Nurse Specialist
Skye, Clinical Nurse Specialist

Following her diagnosis, Holly faced a strenuous treatment programme which included multiple operations, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. This also meant that Holly had to move hospitals a few times, spending time in her local hospital in Jersey as well as Great Ormond Street and Southampton General Hospital. It’s been a long process which has been made even harder by multiple complications during her surgery, as she waits to see if her radiotherapy has been effective.

During this time, one person who has proven to be especially important to Holly is Skye, Teenage Cancer Trust’s Clinical Nurse Specialist for Jersey. Holly explains – “Navigating cancer as a young person can be nerve-wracking and it’s great to have Skye there to lead me through that journey”. Skye herself has noted that through this journey, she has seen Holly’s personal growth in spite of all the challenges she’s faced. “Holly was quite shy and quiet [when we first met] …It has been amazing to see how she has grown. She has become a very confident young woman”.

Holly was quite shy and quiet [when we first met] …It has been amazing to see how she has grown. She has become a very confident young woman

Talking about what has made Skye stand out as a nurse, Holly highlights Skye’s communication skills, particularly, her approach to breaking bad news and having difficult discussions around her treatment. “Skye will always tell me the truth, but she delivers news to me in a much softer way. She’s also there to talk about anything upsetting. It really helps me that she knows so much about how cancer can affect young people. As much as family and friends want to help, they don’t always understand”.

Finding that balance between being truthful and sensitive can be a big challenge when talking to any patient. Skye told us that “having an excellent rapport with my patients helps in delivering [bad] news in a softer approach. I always try and have information available on the next steps and if there are other treatment options available or support available if no other treatment options are available”. 

As well as the medical side of things, Holly pointed out that there are practical issues which Skye has also had a key role in helping her with. For example - speaking to employers so that they would understand the fatigue and various side effects that would come out of Holly’s treatment. “It was much better coming from a nurse” Holly adds. Now that Holly has stopped working, Skye has continued to help her in applying for grants. “It’s a real relief having her help me with that as I have more money coming in. It’s not something I expected that she would be able to help me with and it’s great that she can support young people in that way too as well as helping with the medical side as it eases a lot of the burden for us”.

As Holly continues her treatment, Skye is still in regular contact with her, and Holly is able to contact her on a work phone if there is anything she needs help with outside of her regular clinic appointments and blood tests. With so many obstacles and uncertainties that come with cancer treatment, one thing Holly can be certain of, is Skye’s commitment. “She always goes above and beyond for me and if I ever have any problems, I know Skye will sort things out for me”.