Have you always worked in oncology?
I’ve been a qualified nurse for 19 years and I’ve worked in oncology for 17 of those. I started my nursing career working with brain and spinal patients at the Newcastle General Hospital but after doing a rotation I decided I wanted to focus on oncology. I’ve been in my current role for 10 years and I still love it.
What does a typical day look like for you?
The only thing you can say about our role is that there is no typical day. We do a lot of planning to make sure the care team is available for families, but palliative patients in need of our help become the priority. As key workers we might be in clinic, attending appointments with families, or helping deal with any other issues people might be experiencing. No two days are the same but we’re always here to deal with whatever happens.
You have to be able to cope with the sadness in this job. It’s important to have the right mindset and coping mechanisms.
People don’t want to think about children having cancer, or dying from cancer, but it’s the reality for a lot of families. We see over 100 patients every year and on average there are 20 deaths a year; each one is too many, and each one is felt deeply. It’s a privilege to care for the children and young people on our wards and make sure they get the care they deserve.