For many people, the point of diagnosis can be an overwhelming and isolating time. It can be difficult to find the right words and space to express the emotions which come with processing the often shocking news.
For Janaya Dwyer, a Clinical Nurse Specialist on the 13 11 20 line and a Regional Rural Liaison in the Loddon Mallee region, transitioning from years of work as an oncology nurse to a role in supportive care just made sense.
“I have a great interest in building relationships with patients and really like caring for them and making sure that in their journey, they feel well informed and supported.”
Janaya is based at Bendigo Regional Cancer Centre and is passionate about increasing access to supportive care in regional and rural areas, particularly the Loddon Mallee region.
“The role involves going to health services across the region and presenting the cancer information and support services to the teams, so different health professionals. It's been the CEOs of the hospitals, nursing staff, allied health, anyone who looks after a cancer patient basically has access to come to the presentation and listen to me talk about the services that we provide.”
As well as providing important cancer information and helping people affected by cancer find the right services for them, Janaya enjoys dedicating time to emotional support.
‘That's probably the most powerful thing, especially on the lines, is just listening and letting people talk about their problems. And you might not necessarily be able to fix things for them, but it's listening to their concerns and creating a space where people can actually speak about how they feel without fear of judgement.’
One support service which can be accessed through the 13 11 20 support line is the Nurse Counselling Service. Staffed by experienced cancer nurses who have completed further education to become Registered Counsellors, the service offers free, short-term phone counselling to help people work through their cancer related concerns.
Janaya says because the nurses work in the same team, she enjoys getting to hear a few weeks down the track that someone she referred to the Nurse Counselling Service has had their first session and that their distress was significantly reduced.
“You just want to provide the best service for everyone that calls,” says Janaya.
Our new campaign aims to increase awareness of our 13 11 20 cancer support line and reminds patients and carers that they’re not alone. According to Janaya, this is a particularly important message for people living in regional and rural areas.
“The beauty of it is that the engagement is over the phone. So if you have a phone, then you can have access to support.”
When it comes to advice for anyone newly diagnosed with cancer, Janaya says the first step is to just call.
“The 13 11 20 service is here for them and they're not alone. They're going to call the service and speak to an experienced cancer nurse who's able to talk about their concerns and guide them through what's next.”
Contact cancer support
Talk to a cancer nurse and get the support you need. Available to anyone affected by cancer – those diagnosed, family, friends, and carers. Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.