A cancer nurse talks about supporting Victorians

Thursday 6 March, 2008

A cancer helpline nurseAs a cancer nurse with more than 20 years experience, Suzi Grogan knows how critical it is for people affected by cancer to receive information and support.

She began working on the Cancer Council Helpline 15 years ago and describes the Helpline as an important service that helps people deal with concerns about cancer.

‘The Helpline is accessible to anyone worried about cancer, including carers, family members and friends of someone diagnosed,' Ms Grogan said.

‘Callers can ask questions about prevention, diagnosis and treatment through to living with the side effects of cancer treatments and coping with advanced disease. We address issues with evidence-based information and give callers an opportunity to express their concerns.

‘The calls are caller-focused so some people ring with specific questions that need to be addressed. Other times, callers will say: "I don't know what I need to know" so it is helpful to ask them how they got here.'

With the Helpline hours extended to 8pm, Monday-Friday, Ms Grogan said more people are now able to access the service.

‘Many of the issues callers have are of a sensitive nature and in the past they have found it difficult to ring with queries due to work commitments and privacy issues. We also receive many calls from carers who due to the constraints of their caring role are unable to call until later in the day.'

Ms Grogan said many people talk of feeling alone and isolated.

‘Often callers express the value of feeling heard and being able to say how they feel at that moment,' Ms Grogan said.

‘Because the service is anonymous, many callers open up and express feelings and thoughts that they may never have talked about before.

We can also link callers in to a range of support services including local cancer support groups, telephone support from someone who has been through a similar experience and financial assistance.'

You can speak to a cancer nurse on 13 11 20 from 8.30am to 8pm, Monday to Friday for the cost of a local call. The service is confidential and multilingual.