The Beacon December FY22


BEING A BREAST CARE NURSE IN REGIONAL AUSTRALIA D onna Wellington is one of hundreds of breast care nurses based across Australia who provide information, period for women to see a specialist in the public health system in Brisbane. Now I think it may be up to three years.’

Donna Wellington

A BREAST CARE NURSE WORKS CLOSELY WITH YOU TO: • A nswer your questions so you’re well-informed when making decisions. • Provide evidence-based information and specialised support. • C oordinate and collaborate with your multidisciplinary team. • C onnect you with support and services, including financial and psychosocial. • A ssist with your recovery by providing information and education on exercises, suportive bras, prescribed pain management, as well as drain and wound care.

Connecting people with support services is a key part of Donna’s role. For those needing financial support, Donna promotes the Patient Assisted Travel Subsidy Scheme, which provides remuneration for kilometres driven to Rockhampton and will fund travel to Brisbane or other centres for patients to have a PET scan as Rockhampton does not have a PET scanner. She also accesses funds through the local Breast and Prostate Association, a volunteer organisation which helps people with breast or prostate cancer who are financially disadvantaged. ‘Since COVID, the number of people we see has more than doubled, due in part to a lot of people moving up from the south or seeing people who did not attend screening mammograms or see their GPs during COVID. I am now seeing up to eight new referrals per week,’ she says. While Donna hopes for more breast care nurses to share the increasing demand for care, she remains invested in providing essential care for women and men across the region. ‘I get more from my patients than I give,’ says Donna. ‘Their stoicism and their heroism are amazing. That’s why I keep doing what I do.’

counselling and support, and help to coordinate care after a breast cancer diagnosis. Based in Rockhampton Central Queensland, Donna is the only full- time breast care nurse employed by Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service, which covers an area of 114,000 square kilometres, including Longreach, a 10-hour drive west. cancer. However, Donna’s role is unique in that she also arranges diagnostic testing for people in rural and remote areas who have had an abnormality detected by a mammogram. In addition, she supports people with metastatic breast cancer by providing them with resources such as BCNA’s My Journey , the Cancer Council’s online counselling service and local counselling services. Donna works with medical oncologists and specialist palliative care physicians and nurses and supports people to be well informed and connected throughout their treatment and recovery. Like many people living in rural and regional areas, she says those in Rockhampton and the surrounding towns face additional challenges, such as travelling long distances for treatment and limited access to services. ‘Reconstruction surgery is not currently offered in Rockhampton, so women have to go to Brisbane, which is a seven or eight hour drive from here,’ says Donna . ‘Before COVID, we had a 12-month waiting Most breast care nurses care for people who have already been diagnosed with breast

FIND A BREAST CARE NURSE To see if there is a breast care nurse in your area, search McGrath Foundation’s breast care nurse directory or call 1800 183 338.

Find out more about travel subsidy

schemes in your state or territory in My Journey .

Issue 93 | December 2022


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