Q&A: Mary Antonello, Cancer Council 13 11 20 nurse

Thursday 18 August, 2016
Cancer Council nurse Mary Antonello

What kind of issues do you see and hear from people facing cancer?

Many people with cancer or family members want to understand what they can expect, and how they can navigate their way through the health care system. People often need medical information explained in a way that is easy to understand, and practical needs like transport assistance and financial or legal advice are often raised. Sometimes there is no real question. People just need to talk to someone who will listen and help them work out what to do and who can help.

How did you get involved in working in cancer care? Tell us about your other nursing experience.
I began nursing in 1976 at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, wearing the white starched apron and ruffled cap. I gained experience in medical and surgical wards, high dependency, and community care, before spending four years working in operating theatres. Over this time, I realised that I found working in cancer care very rewarding. I felt the things I did and said could really make a difference to the experience of people with cancer and their family. I have worked in oncology and palliative care ever since.

Describe a typical day at Cancer Council 13 11 20
I am part of lovely team of cancer nurses who respond to people with questions or concerns about cancer. I spend most of the day on the phone with callers, helping them address their concerns. I also spend time with people in our private Wig Service, helping them choose a wig they like, whilst answering any questions and seeing if they have any support needs.

What's the best thing about being a Cancer Council nurse?
It's a beautiful job. We have the time to explain information to callers and you know you are helping people. It's a privilege to care and be present with people through difficult times.

Call 13 11 20 today and speak to one of our experienced and understanding cancer nurses for information and support you can trust.


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