5 Minutes with Jean

Many of you who attend the NI Cancer Centre for treatment will be cared for by the wonderful team in Radiotherapy. With between 200 and 250 treatments offered each day in the Radiotherapy department, Friends of the Cancer Centre very proudly supports the team in providing vital care for local people affected by cancer.

One important member of the team is Jean Smith, Section Manager for Linear Accelerators 5-10 in the Radiotherapy Department in the NI Cancer Centre. We caught up with Jean to find out more about her role and how the support of Friends of the Cancer Centre makes a difference to the team.

What does your role involve? How do you support people affected by cancer?

“Within the Radiotherapy department, we offer treatment to either help cure your cancer, in support of other treatments (such as surgery or chemotherapy), or to help reduce symptoms and make you most comfortable if your cancer is not curative. Most people will have several treatments, and may need to attend the department for a few weeks.

“In my role as Section Manager for LA 5-10, I am responsible for overseeing the treatments carried out on over half of the linear accelerators we have available to us in the Cancer Centre. This includes managing the team of therapeutic radiographers who provide your treatment in the Radiotherapy department and ensuring you receive accurate, safe and effective treatment.” 

How important is Friends of the Cancer Centre to your role?

“Friends of the Cancer Centre provides important support for many aspects of our work in the Radiotherapy department. Personally, I received support from the charity as the winner of their Pamela Lutton scholarship in 2017, which enabled me to attend the European Society for Radiotherapy & Oncology (ESTRO) Image Guided Radiotherapy School. This allowed me to update my knowledge and skills base in the most up to date imaging techniques, I have been able to use this in implementing training programmes for the radiographers in our department and in the development of new practice.

“One way the charity supports the work of the Radiotherapy department is through funding activity packs and gifts for our paediatric team. Facing treatment is difficult for anyone, never mind for a child, and with funding from the charity, our team can help our young patients mark their milestones during treatment. These gifts are always well received and the activity packs give the child something to look forward to when attending for appointments. 

“Throughout the last number of years, the charity has also funded many pieces of important equipment for our department. This included part funding the BrainLAB exactrac imaging equipment, an important addition for one of the linear accelerators in my section. This equipment provides infrastructure for the stereotactic radiotherapy service and has been vital in helping us enhance the service offered to patients with brain tumours.

“Within the department, we have always felt it was important to value the wonderful staff that we have, and the importance of staff morale has been even further highlighted with the pressures of the past years. The charity helps us with recognising those staff members who go above and beyond for patients by funding the RT Thumbs Up programme.

“I would like to thank all those who give generously to the work of Friends of the Cancer Centre, your support, through the work of the charity, helps us each day to care for our patients.”

Visit the ‘How We Help’ section for more information on the projects we support: How we help – Friends of the Cancer Centre

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