July 27, 2016

Lung Cancer Support Nurse one year on

IMG_6286You may remember reading about the appointment of Claire Mulvihill to the newly created position of Lung Cancer Support Nurse in the August edition of LungNet News last year. It has now been one year since Claire’s appointment and we thought it was timely to share the story of one of the patients Claire has been able help by the provision of support and information.

Case Study: 56 year old lady from regional Australia diagnosed with stage 3a Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC).

Treatment: Patient underwent concurrent radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Post treatment, the patient required emotional support after enduring six weeks of treatment in the city away from her family. Although she attended a hospital with a dedicated Lung Cancer Multidisciplinary Team (MDT), there wasn’t a Lung Cancer Support Nurse or Cancer Care Coordinator employed at the location to provide the support she was seeking and this led her to call our Lung Cancer Support Nurse.

During the first phone call, Claire established the patient’s emotional and physical needs with discussions around nutrition and diet, the importance of exercise, sleep and returning to work. Claire also explained that an important aspect of the patient’s care was utilising the professional support contacts available to her which included her GP, medical oncologist and radiation oncologist.

After a few months, the patient contacted Claire again as she was concerned post hospitalisation that a second course of antibiotics was not resolving a suspected chest infection coupled with a repetitive cough. Whilst speaking with the patient and noting her breathlessness and frequent coughing in relation to the course of radiotherapy she had completed three months prior, Claire had concerns she was presenting with radiation pneumonitis. With the permission from the patient, Claire emailed her radiation oncologist who was part of the hospital’s lung cancer MDT. Within five days, the patient was reviewed by her radiation oncologist and appropriate treatment was started.

Since this event, the patient has continued to benefit from regular follow up calls to Claire for emotional support and during this time, she has become a member of our Lung Cancer Telephone Support Group.

If you haven’t previously heard about our Lung Cancer Support Nurse, Claire, she is available to provide telephone support and information to patients and their families living with lung cancer, mesothelioma or rarer thoracic cancer, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week. You can contact Claire by phoning our Information and Support Centre on 1800 654 301 or email claire@lungfoundation.com.au.