October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we are shining a light on the care and support available to those impacted by a breast cancer diagnosis in Northern Ireland.

Every year in Northern Ireland, over 1,400 people are diagnosed with breast cancer and we are incredibly proud to now fund and support three specialist breast cancer nurses.

This vital area of our work started in 2011, when Friends of the Cancer Centre funded our very first nurse. Elaine Shaw joined our team as Breast Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist and since then, she has supported over 400 patients every year. In 2019, we were proud to expand our support for people with breast cancer by funding Northern Ireland’s only Secondary Breast Cancer Nurse, Gemma Potter. This year, we are incredibly proud that the charity’s support for breast cancer care
has increased further with the addition of Annette Quinn, Breast Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist, to our funded staff team.

For patients receiving chemotherapy as part of their treatment plan, or for those who have been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, many will be cared for by the team supported by Friends of the Cancer Centre. Working closely with Elaine and Gemma, Annette will act as a key worker for breast cancer patients, helping to guide them through their treatment pathway

Meet Elaine

"As a Clinical Nurse Specialist I act as a vital lynchpin between the various teams involved in a patient’s care and I am a source of information and support as they come through their treatment. In my advanced role, I carry out my own clinics and can prescribe chemotherapy – jobs which were traditionally only carried out by doctors. This allows more patients to be seen more quickly as they don’t have to wait for a consultant appointment."

Meet Annette

“I am delighted to have started in post as Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Breast Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist. “We know that a cancer diagnosis can have a huge impact on patients, their carers and families. The diagnosis itself, anxieties about treatment, and potential side effects can all lead to this being a very worrying time. Thanks to the support of Friends of the Cancer Centre, I am on hand to be by a patient’s side from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond. “As a former Deputy Sister in the Bridgewater Suite, I have worked closely with patients attending the hospital for chemotherapy treatment and understand the vital impact a specialist nurse can have on them and their family.”

Meet Gemma

“Receiving a secondary breast cancer diagnosis is distressing and people will have many questions and worries. I hope to alleviate some of those concerns by being a source of support from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond. As well as helping to coordinate treatment and appointments, I also support people through the emotional and psychological impact their diagnosis has on them and their family."

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