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Behind the scenes with Chelsey Upston,
13 11 20 cancer nurse

Wednesday 23 May, 2018

How did you get involved in cancer care? Tell us about your other nursing experience.

After completing my Graduate Nurse year at Peter MacCallum, I enjoyed working with adolescents and young adults diagnosed with sarcoma. It was after moving to Darwin that I became connected with Cancer Council coordinating their Cancer Information and Support Service and working as a Cancer Support Nurse for people affected by cancer. Returning to Melbourne has seen me join the 13 11 20 team in Victoria.

Describe a typical day at Cancer Council Victoria.

I receive emails and phone calls from people diagnosed with cancer, carers and loved ones, friends and health professionals. There are many reasons people contact us. It can range from seeking emotional or practical support, to accessing resources and information about support services, treatment and cancer prevention.

Do you receive many calls from people who don’t know where to turn?

Yes, definitely. Many people feel overwhelmed during cancer treatment, or whilst caring for a loved one with cancer. People often call us without knowing how we might be able to support them during such a difficult time. Being able to talk to an experienced cancer nurse about their situation can help them process information and better understand their emotions.

How would you talk to them about connecting with others?

We can offer a range of services to help people connect with others that may be either going, or have gone, through a similar experience. There is a telephone peer-support service to speak to someone who ‘has been there before’. I often talk about what local support groups might be available and appropriate for them and there is an online community if they do not have access to a face-to-face group or prefer other options. Linking callers with these services can help reduce feelings of isolation and enhance self-care, a sense of self and belonging, at what can otherwise be a very difficult time.

 

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