BCNA’s Helpline offers free and confidential information, support and referral for people affected by breast cancer. The team is made up of experienced staff, including a breast care nurse and three cancer nurses. Here we profile Tracey, one of the faces behind the Helpline.
How long have you been a member of the Helpline team?
I started at BCNA in August this year. I work on the Helpline two days a week and as a breast care nurse two days a week. I have been working as a breast care nurse for seven years and have experience in both the public and private sectors.
What led you to become a breast care nurse?
Becoming a breast care nurse was something I have always wanted to do. After more than 12 years working in a busy surgical ward specialising in breast cancer surgery and breast reconstruction, I wanted to increase the level of support I could give people affected by breast cancer.
The education and support that a breast care nurse provides can really make a difference to people affected by breast cancer, and I knew this was a role I would find rewarding.
How does your experience as a breast care nurse benefit the Helpline?
During my time as a breast care nurse I have provided education and support to women and men from their initial investigations and through the years that follow as they complete treatment and surveillance.
I have supported them while they have received their diagnosis and provided further explanation of their pathology report and treatment plan. I have cared for them both before and immediately after surgery.
Always included throughout this time are their families and support people, whose needs are also very important. This has given me knowledge and insight into the range of emotional, physical and practical issues that may be experienced over this time, by those with cancer and their family and friends, which helps me provide individualised information and support when I speak to callers on the Helpline.
The healthcare system can be difficult to navigate and can feel quite overwhelming when someone is first diagnosed and having to explore all the treatments and services available to them. My experience as a breast care nurse enables me to assist callers to navigate the health care system, explore the options available to them, and link them with the right person in their treatment team to respond to their questions and concerns.
What information and support can the Helpline provide?
The Helpline nurses respond to callers in a caring and professional manner. The most important support we provide is a listening ear. We listen to what callers want, help them to clarify their needs and then find the right information and resources for their particular circumstances.
We provide information and support over the phone and also link people to specific information on BCNA’s website and websites from other reputable organisations (printed information can also be provided when needed). We also assist with finding local support groups and services.
Who calls the Helpline?
We receive calls from people diagnosed with breast cancer anywhere from an hour to many years after their diagnosis. We also support their partners, children, parents, friends and colleagues – all calls are welcome.
Our Helpline team can be contacted on 1800 500 258. The Helpline is available 9.00 am to 5.00 pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and between 9.00 am and 9.00 pm on Tuesday and Thursday (AEDT).