Teamwork is the key to breast-cancer support

by Rosie Allsopp A LEADING breast-cancer care expert was the special guest at the Soroptomists' lunch yesterday.

Royal College of Nursing president Sylvia Denton was in Guernsey to discuss the important role that volunteers have to play as part of the care team for women suffering from the disease.

Ms Denton helped found the RCN's breast-care nursing society and has been a breast-care nurse for 23 years.

She said the support of women who had been through the disease for those who were newly-diagnosed was invaluable.

'They can offer women something that we as professionals can't offer, just as we can offer something they can't and together we work as a team,' she said.

Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease and 40,000 women a year are diagnosed.

It is the most common cause of cancer in Guernsey women.

When Ms Denton began 23 years ago, there were only four or five breast-care nurses in the UK.

There are now around 500 and they form a vital part of the clinical care team in addition to surgeons, radiologists, oncologists and other nursing staff.

Ms Denton is the lead nurse specialist in breast care at St. Bartholomew's and the London NHS Trust.

She has also worked as a clinical nurse specialist, a research nurse, a clinical nurse manager and as a commissioning nurse for a large oncology unit.

'We have volunteers working with us in the unit and every woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer is offered the opportunity to meet one.

"They are all women who have been prepared and are supported in their role.

"They have all had breast can cer themselves and they bring their experience, a positive approach and camaraderie.

'It is an idea that has been with us for many years, the value of volunteers as a concept.'

Local support group the Pink Ladies is the Soroptomists' chosen charity this year.

Ms Denton said it was 'a brilliant scheme'.

'To have a volunteer, there is a sign of hope and the fact that there is life after diagnosis is an amazing boost to women.

'That's why I came to Guernsey, to support the Pink Ladies. I was delighted because of the issue they address. The fact that the Soroptomists are supporting the Pink Ladies is the reason I'm doubly delighted to be here.'

(Reproduced courtesy Guernsey Press and Star)
Article dated 02 February 2004

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