A conversation with Clem, 13 11 20 Cancer Nurse

Monday 18 December, 2017

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

When my Grandfather died I remember being impressed by the nurses who were taking care of him. I wanted a career change, and one night I woke up in the middle of the night and I knew I wanted to be a nurse.

I think a lot of people who work in oncology have some sort of personal connection to cancer. My other Grandfather died of lung cancer when I was very young at Peter Mac and that was the same hospital where I went to do my grad year.

Describe a typical day at Cancer Council Victoria.

I started working at Cancer Council Victoria almost three years ago and I spend part of my time working on the 13 11 20 Cancer Information and Support line and the rest of my time working on the Healthy Living after Cancer program.

I receive calls from a variety of people. These can range from cancer patients, whether just diagnosed, or in the middle of treatment, or from people who have finished their treatment. We also get calls from friends, family and carers of cancer patients as well as members of the general public who have questions about cancer.

I also coordinate Healthy Living after Cancer. This is a telephone based program for people who have finished their cancer treatment. As part of the program nurses from Cancer Council Victoria help participants exercise more, eat better and lose weight. It is an incredibly rewarding program to be part of.

What are common themes people call about during the holiday season?

Holidays can be a very emotional time for people especially if they are far away from friends and family and not in good health. The good news is there is quite a lot of help available these days if people know where to ask for it.

After Christmas and New Year is a time when people often start thinking about living a healthier lifestyle and we do tend to see a bit of a rise in calls from people who want to know what they should be doing to keep their chance of getting cancer low. Exercising a bit more, losing some weight and eating a healthier diet are all things that people can do which may reduce their risk of getting cancer. And remember if you are someone who has finished your treatment for cancer, the Healthy Living after Cancer program can help people achieve their lifestyle goals.

What's the best thing about being a cancer nurse?

The best thing about being a cancer nurse is the people who I’ve had a chance to work with. The doctors and nurses, allied health workers and the 13 11 20 Cancer Information and Support nurses. I also want to acknowledge all the program managers and research assistants I work with here at Cancer Council Victoria. They’re smart and caring and dedicated and happy to share their knowledge and experience and it is a real pleasure to come to work to work with them.

To find out more about the Healthy Living after Cancer program or to speak with our cancer nurses, call Information and Support 13 11 20.

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