My Clinical Nurse Specialist and peer support lifted my mental health


Amanda, Lianne’s Clinical Nurse Specialist, played a huge part in lifting Lianne’s mental health after her Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis, as she recommended peer support activities and got her in touch with the hospital psychologist. “I don’t think I’d be where I am now without Amanda” says Lianne. She shared her story and how Amanda helped her from her diagnosis onwards.

My Clinical Nurse Specialist Amanda

I was put in touch with Teenage Cancer Trust’s Clinical Nurse Specialist Amanda after I was told I had cancer. She called me initially and then arranged to meet me in person. 

I had really bad social anxiety and I was nervous about meeting so many people at the hospital, but Amanda made me feel relaxed straight away.

Lianne in hospital

When I went in for my chemotherapy, I could be in one of three rooms with different nurses each time, so it helped to have Amanda there too. She was a familiar face and that put me at ease, especially because I was treated during Covid and couldn’t have my mum there. It was nice to chat to Amanda and it helped distract me during treatment. 

When I was too anxious, Amanda also spoke to people on my behalf. It took a lot of pressure off me. She often chased up things like blood test results and appointments which gave me more time to concentrate on getting better.

Cancer puts an extra strain on finances, so Amanda put me in touch with someone who helped me apply for money for travel, heating and other costs. 

I’d left school due to my social anxiety and I was meant to be going to college to do animal care. My anxiety got the better of me, so I pushed it back a year. My diagnosis made me want to do something different. Amanda put me in touch with someone who could help me with my CV and encouraged me to go for a multi-craft apprenticeship. I started it in September and it’s going really well. I’m doing jointing and working on overhead power cables. 

Mental health and anxiety support

Cancer also affected my mental health and anxiety. Amanda couldn’t stress enough that she was always a phone call or an email away if I needed her. She constantly reassured me and reminded me how far I had come. It was great to have someone like her on my side. 

Amanda also put me in touch with the hospital psychologist who has done wonders for me. She helped me understand how I was feeling even when I wasn’t sure how I was feeling. I sometimes rambled on to get everything out, but she was really good at listening to me. She gave me perspective and validated how I was feeling. It helped me understand what I have been through. I’d previously seen different counsellors and had medication for my anxiety, but it didn’t work, so it’s important to get someone who meets your needs.

Amanda also supported me while I waited for six months after chemotherapy to get the all-clear. I’d been trying to get things in place to get my life back on track, like trying to apply for courses. There were a lot of ‘what ifs’ going through my mind, and I tried not to let it stop me doing things, but the worry was still there. I couldn’t do a lot of things I wanted to do as my fitness wasn’t as good, so I struggled a lot during that time, and it affected my mental health. 

She reminded me that I wasn’t the person I was before cancer, and I had to give my body time to get back to normal. Because she had worked with so many young people who also needed that time, I knew that what I was experiencing was normal and ok. She reassured me and lifted my mental health. 

She also got me out of the house, and we’d go for a chat. She told me about different activities to keep me busy, such as Look Good Feel Better where you learn make-up tricks.  

Peer to peer support and change in confidence

Amanda also invited me to peer group activities with other young people who’d had cancer. It was great to meet them and hear their experiences. Sometimes things were just left unsaid as everyone just got it. They understood why I was there and why my appearance was different. We’d all been through similar things. We laughed about what we had been through and found comfort in that. There’s also a Facebook group that we’re all a part of and people post their worries on there and other people give them advice. I’ve found it really helpful reading the posts.

Lianne with her dog

I was initially anxious about meeting Amanda, but I’m so glad that I accepted her support. The whole experience was very alien to me, but Amanda had so much experience with working with young people with cancer that she helped me navigate it. I would encourage anyone to take all of the support that is offered to them. I don’t think I would be where I am now if it was not for Amanda.

Going through cancer and having Amanda’s help has really increased my confidence. I didn’t have any option but to show up for chemo, so I had to meet new people. I’m much better in social settings now. I wouldn’t have said a lot before my diagnosis and now I’m a bit of a chatterbox. 

If I’d been asked a year ago if I wanted to talk about my experience of cancer I probably would have fallen to the floor, hidden under a bench and not come back out. I’ve come a long way since then and I want to share my experience to help other people.