Breast Care Nurse – Victoria Breidahl

NAME: Victoria Breidahl

PROFESSIONAL TITLE: Breast Care Nurse

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN YOUR ROLE FOR? 14 months

 

WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE?

Providing support and information to breast cancer patients and their families/carers, helping them to make fully informed decisions regarding their treatment pathway that are right for them individually

 

HOW DO YOU FIT INTO THE PATIENT’S CANCER TREATMENT TEAM?

I attend patient consultations with the Breast Surgeon, attend the weekly multi-disciplinary team and oncology ward meetings, liaise with patients on an “as needs” basis whether they be inpatients or outpatients, as well as run a session on “Latent effects of breast cancer treatment” in our rehabilitation program. I also attend a local support group meeting once/month for women with breast cancer who are under 45 yrs/age

 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR ROLE?

Working with a group of ever changing but wonderful patients and their families in an area that is tough but with plenty of hope

 

ARE THERE ANY CHALLENGES TO YOUR ROLE?

Plenty of challenges which constantly keeps me on my toes!

 

WHY DO YOU THINK YOUR ROLE IS IMPORTANT FOR CANCER PATIENTS?

I think every cancer stream should have a specialist nurse in that area to help support, inform, advocate if necessary and basically help navigate the maze of surgical, chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment options available to patients these days. I help fill in the gaps or make things clearer to patients so they can fully understand what is happening to them, usually at an incredibly fast rate

 

ARE THERE ANY COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT YOUR ROLE?

I don’t think there are misconceptions about the role of the Breast Care Nurse but more a lack of knowledge or understanding of what the role actually entails and how broad it is

 

HOW DO PATIENTS GET REFERRED TO A BREAST CARE NURSE?

Patients are often referred to a BCN by their treating Breast Surgeon, Medical Oncologist or Radiation Oncologist but patients are welcome to self refer

 

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNT IN YOUR CAREER?

In my 35 years of nursing, I think the most important lesson I have learnt is to always listen to the patient (and/or their family) – no one knows their body better than the person themself, or someone close to them, so it’s always best to listen to their opinion/version of what they feel is happening to them, and let them describe it in their own words rather than jumping in too early and possibly drawing the wrong conclusion/diagnosis

 

IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO CANCER PATIENTS, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Go with the flow, do what you feel is best for you under the circumstances and keep a broad mind. Gather all the information that is important for you individually and then take what you need from this information as you need it, when you need it and if you need it. Remember everyone’s experience is unique to them. Try and just take one step at a time rather than viewing the whole picture/journey at once – this can be too daunting and overwhelming

 

ARE THERE ANY ORGANISATIONS OR USEFUL WEB LINKS THAT YOU RECOMMEND FOR PATIENTS?

Yes, there are lots! We are really fortunate in breast cancer to have a wealth of organisations who provide all kinds of support from information and support to fun and fitness. Here’s my list of Australian organisations.

Breast Cancer Network Australia www.bcna.org.au

Cancer Council www.cancer.org.au

Cancer Australia www.canceraustralia.gov.au

Australasian Lymphology Association www.lymphoedema.org.au

Future Fertility www.futurefertility.org.au

Westmead Breast Cancer Institute www.bci.org.au

Australasian Lymphology Association www.lymphoedema.org.au

Think Pink Foundation www.thinkpink.org.au

BreaCan Gynaecological and Breast Cancer Support www.breacan.org.au

Look Good Feel Better www.lgfb.org.au

Australian Menopause Society www.menopause.org.au

Jean Hailes for Women’s Health www.jeanhailes.org.au

 

ANY OTHER ADDITIONAL INFORMATION YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD:

There are other quite specific support groups/organisations out there too, including some good international ones.

  • Breast Friends Support Group is a Melbourne based support group for women with breast cancer who are under 45 years of age. They meet once a month for dinner and also have a facebook page. Ph: (03) 9483.3711
  • Canteen assists 15-25 year olds who need support when they have a parent who has been diagnosed with cancer www.canteen.org.au
  • National Cancer Institute, the US government’s key agency for cancer research www.cancer.gov