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Behind the scenes with Jeanne Potts, 13 11 20 Cancer Nurse

Monday 14 August, 2017


Both carers and people who have been affected by a cancer diagnosis are overwhelmed and feel they are left to their own devices, and care for themselves - in a physical and emotional sense - once they have gone home from treatment. Part of my role was to empower patients to manage treatment side effects at home and know when and how to report them to the right health professionals and direct them to appropriate support services. 

In my role, as a 13 11 20 cancer nurse, I take a wide variety of calls from people wanting information and support. I enjoy being able to spend time on the phone, without being rushed by hospital routines and time constraints.

I have spoken to many people about all aspects of cancer care and support, everything from discussing side effects of treatment to the overwhelming sense of an uncertain future associated with a cancer diagnosis. Many people call as they are concerned or confused about their own cancer risk, especially after promotional messages on the radio and TV.

People often call to get a “Bowel Cancer Kit” (also known as the FOBT Kit). During the conversation I determine if the person is eligible for a Kit which tests the bowel motion for the presence of blood. I explain the FOBT Kit or National Bowel Cancer Screening Kit is appropriate for people 50-74yrs who do not have any symptoms of bowel cancer and do not have a strong family history of bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer symptoms may include bleeding from the rectum or blood after a bowel motion, changed bowel habits, abdominal pain or unexplained tiredness. I direct people to their GP if any of these symptoms or a family history is present. People who are eligible for a Kit from the Federal Government are encouraged to use it and are advised as to how and when they will receive a Kit in the mail.

I have had personal experience of my own father in-law being diagnosed with bowel cancer which was too advanced to treat, before the days of regular screening. I use a FOBT Kit every 2 years myself and encourage my family and friends to do the same, if it is appropriate for them.

Being part of the 13 11 20 team, it’s a great feeling knowing I am making a difference to the person on the other side of the phone.


To find out more about the National Bowel Screening campaign, call us on: 13 11 20 or visit the website for further information.


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