September 08


Do we really know what they do????

Dear readers, apologies for the ‘blog silence’. I am learning and finding out so much during my PULSE assignment, I should be writing a blog a day …however, time is running fast and as I find myself through a third of this amazing experience already, I have plenty to work on and to deliver over the next three months here at Target Ovarian Cancer! Thank goodness, you may think, as I am not sure you would want to hear from me every day!

In my last blog I looked at the impact cancer has on the patient’s family and friends. Remember the ‘when one a poem says it all’ post?

Picture1This time I want to make you think of how cancer affects Health Care Professionals (HCP), as I recently had the privilege to shadow a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, one of the leading UK health centres.

Do we actually think of HCPs when we think of how cancer affects people? Or, just because they are professionals and exposed to this day in, day out, we tend to overlook the effects cancer has on them too? After a full day of observing how these nurses work and deal with complicated and emotionally challenging cases, many thoughts came into my head: how do they deal with this every day? What do they think when they go home in the evening? Do we actually realise the tireless work and commitment they dedicate to their patients? Not often enough, I believe….

The day was spent observing how the Clinical Nurse Specialist conversed, connected and engaged patients in a transparent, comforting and non-patronising way despite having to deliver a variety of messages. We visited a lady who had just had an hysterectomy as a consequence of ovarian cancer. We also spoke to a disabled lady who had just been given the news she has ovarian cancer and talked through the treatment options she was facing over the coming months and we listened to a young lady who, after years of recurring cervical cancer has decided to opt for an elected hysterectomy and give up the wish to have children.

I asked how they manage to keep detached and unemotional in their role. The answer is they don’t, but they have to so it looks like they do. Most cases get under their skin, but their professionalism helps them provide patients with skilled, caring, transparent and straight forward support to help them deal with their conditions.

It was definitely an eye opening experience, once that enriched me professionally, as I learnt how the healthcare system works, personally, as I realise health is the most precious gift we have, and emotionally, as it taught me how dedicated these nurses are to patients. I felt drained by the end of it but I thought: these patients are in real good hands!