Learn more about the role of breast care nurses at Mediclinic City Hospital in Dubai
7 October 2019| Last updated on 8 October 2019
Breast care nurses are registered nurses who specialise in the coordination of care and the provision of support and information to patients with breast cancer.
The role, which emerged in the 1990s, has developed in line with the increasingly complex field of breast cancer treatment and is also a flourishing role in Mediclinic City Hospital’s Comprehensive cancer center.
Elsbeth Bentley, Breast Care Nurse at Mediclinic City Hospital’s Comprehensive cancer center says: “It really is that combination of the art of compassion and caring with the skills, expertise and knowledge that are needed to help navigate people through a breast cancer diagnosis and the experience,”
“The treatment can be really, really complicated so it’s just trying to assist patients to navigate from point A to point B. When anyone is told they have cancer, they will be in shock and not always remember or understand what the Consultant is saying. I am there as a second set of ears, so I can answer any questions the patient may have after they have left the hospital and during the follow-up appointment. After this initial appointment, the patient (and whoever is accompanying her to the clinic) will be invited to spend time with me in my office, which gives them a chance to ask any questions that come up, I can explain anything they don’t understand or can’t quite remember. This is often the time that I can help them with a strategy for telling their family members, including children.”
“People all have very different needs so you need to be able to tailor the support that you provide your patients and their families to help them achieve the best possible outcomes” Elsbeth explains
Breast care nursing is also a varied role which can range from breast care awareness for people without breast cancer to assisting those with a breast cancer diagnosis, and helping patients going through surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, adjuvant therapy, and in the event of any recurrence of the disease.
Breast Care Nursing is Often Incredibly Challenging
Nurses support patients, their families and carers through the stressful and emotional parts of their breast cancer journey from diagnosis to treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.
“It’s often complicated and you are dealing with a number of people who are at different stages with their treatment. Dealing with people who are facing a life-threatening illness and particularly when you are dealing with advanced disease, presents its own challenges.”
Despite the challenges, Elsbeth Bentley says breast care nursing is also very rewarding.
“An important part of my role is to be a patient’s advocate, this means that I find out what their preferences about treatment are, what is important to them and I represent them in our Multi-disciplinary Team meetings. These are the weekly meetings that we have where the whole team of doctors who are involved in the treatment of our patients with breast cancer. Each patient is discussed fully and an appropriate treatment pathway is recommended.”
“I have an open clinic so no-one has to call ahead for an appointment and I can usually see my patients with minimal, sometimes no, waiting time. I have a direct phone number which they will have and can use to contact me during my office hours or leave an SMS outside office hours. The support I offer is extended into life after treatment, so-called “survivorship”. We now have a support group expressly for those patients who have completed treatment which meets one evening every month.”
Elsbeth further expresses: “I have now spent most of my nursing life helping women face difficult decisions. Some issues can affect women in many ways, not just physically but also emotionally. Supporting women making difficult decisions regarding their treatment can be challenging, of course, there are tears at times but there’s lots of laughter too along the way. I can honestly say that I love my job and consider myself to be privileged to have met so many inspiring women in the course of my work. People are very resilient and that’s what I love - I love seeing people recognize the strength that at the beginning, they didn’t know they had.”
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