A word from Our Nurse…..

Well these last few months have been busy!! Firstly I am happy to report that my hours have now increased to 2 days per week. I now work Tuesdays and Wednesdays which is a great achievement by the Trust and for the patients, as I am accessible on an extra day.

 I have utilised this extra time to help kick off our primary schools sun safety campaign. With the invaluable help of Annette St Clair, we have attended several primary schools and given sun safety talks to years 3 and above. This has been received very well and the feedback from schools very positive. The focus of these talks is to educate the children while they are young about the importance of playing safely in the sun and the potential dangers of the sun, in particular being diagnosed with a Melanoma.  Amie’s story is told very movingly by Annette and you could hear a pin drop in the halls as we play the slideshow of Amie in the background.  It is unfortunately the harsh reality of showing a “normal” young girl who was not much older than them, playing softball, laughing with friends, doing all the normal fun stuff like formals and disco’s and then stopped in her prime because of the devastating diagnosis of Melanoma.  If we get through to a few hundred children we might just set them up for life with the knowledge and the right tools to keep safe while outside in the sun.  Prevention is better than cure!

Apart from the schools Campaign, Annette and I continue with talks to Soroptimist groups, CWA groups, nursing staff and have been asked recently to talk to sub-contractors on a building site.  Our primary schools campaign will discontinue in the upcoming winter months and we hope to recommence in the spring with particular attention to completing the primary schools and commencing our education in the high schools!

The last few months have seen an increase in the number of referrals from a variety of Specialists.  One could ask whether this is due to the increased rates of diagnosis or due to the fact that the specialists are accessing the Nurse so that patients have support and guidance early in their diagnosis.  I hope the latter is the primary reason and it continues.

The last few months have been a busy time for education enhancing my own professional development.  I have attended and was on the Committee for the Inaugural Lymphoedema forum which was held here in Wagga.  This was achieved through the tremendous hard work of the Wagga Wagga Breast Cancer Support Group.  It was a successful day that highlighted the need for support and provided education on Lymphoedema, acknowledging that it is not just breast cancer patients that are affected by  Lymphoedema.  Melanoma patients having radical Lymph node dissections are also at great risk of developing Lymphoedema.  It was lovely to see a few of my patients there.  The evening function was a great networking session with local GP’s attending and a great opportunity to advertise the role of the Melanoma Care Nurse.

Despite a one off cold day in March, Annette and I were warmly welcomed at an Aboriginal Cancer Camp in Laurel Hill Lodge.  We gave a presentation on melanoma and networked with other Health Professionals during the day.

Annette and I have also been fortunate to attend The Cancer Council’s Inaugural Leadership Conference which took place in March.  This conference has provided us with the tools and confidence which we hope will help us re-establish the Melanoma Support Group.  We hope to get this support group up and running with a higher capacity of attendees in the next few months.  We hope by having a facilitator and co-facilitator we can assist each other and provide a successful support group which is very much needed for our patients.

March has ended with Annette and I doing the Melanoma Institute of Australia’s March for a Cure which was held in Manly Beach on Sunday the 24th March.  What a humbling and worthwhile day this was.   1,300 people which included patients,  carers, friends,  family and Health Professionals came together and marched unitedly 4.2 kms along Manly Beach.  This day raised funds of over $200,000 to directly benefit the dedicated research at the Institute.  We are proud to say that we have helped do our bit for this which will be returned in benefitting our patients who attend the Institute.

On an ending note…..Australia has the highest incidence of Melanoma in the world. Around 12,500 new cases are diagnosed annually and it kills 1,500 a year!

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