Date of release: 27 October 2021
This week my blog is backing Breast Cancer Awareness month, which both The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT) and Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust have been promoting during October.
Health promotion is a huge part of the role of a breast care nurse. The RWT breast care nursing team are based at New Cross Hospital and see patients in outpatients (OPD1). The team has gone all out this year to raise awareness in patients and staff about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer and how we can all try to reduce our risk of developing it as much as possible.
This is especially the case since we know the COVID-19 pandemic has deterred people from visiting their GP or reporting their symptoms for fear of contracting the virus.
Firstly, the team – made up of Caroline Jones, Consultant Nurse, Clinical Nurse Specialists Samantha Bullows, Debbie Dickson, Sara Longman, Jennie Stain and Michele Campbell, Lacey Wood, Senior Support Worker and Elaine Garrington, Admin Support – has set up information stands around New Cross Hospital to promote awareness and literature promoting reducing the risk of breast cancer. There has been one in outpatients (OPD1) throughout the month, another by the Emergency Department this week, and there was one by Greggs on main street for the first week of October.
Secondly, the team has been posting information daily on their social media pages. These were set up during the pandemic as another way of keeping in contact with patients and to update them on what was happening within the service.
Breast Care Nursing Service Team
This content have really helped build awareness, and there are currently almost 300 members on the group’s private Facebook page, with patients supporting each another and offering their own experiences of treatments and how to tolerate them.
Members of the team also did their first Facebook live event which received over 200 views on the day, while they have also been dropping off ‘goody bags’ to as many wards, departments and office areas as they could. These bags contained health promotion materials and laminated self-examination posters to display in staff rooms plus the all-important free pen – everyone loves a free pen!
Self-examination is something the team always advocate to all women and men – no matter what their age – but many people struggle with this as they don’t feel they know how to do it correctly, or what they are looking for. The team would like to reassure everyone there is no set way to conduct a breast self-examination.
It’s just important to do it about once a month (for women, approx. one week after a menstrual cycle) making sure to feel around the whole breast, including the nipple / areola and into the axilla (under the shoulder joint where the arm connects to the shoulder).
It is also advocated to conduct a visual examination in front of a mirror so you can see the full perspective of the breast, with your arms down at your side and then raised above your head, looking for any skin changes, puckering or dimpling. Please report any changes, no matter how big or small, to your GP.
As the risk of breast cancer in women increases with age, the importance of attending screening mammograms when invited between the ages of 50-70 years cannot be stressed enough.
They can be uncomfortable and even painful at times, but they last for a few minutes and early detection can often mean simpler and more successful treatment.
This month in particular is special to the team as Caroline celebrates 40 years of working in the NHS and 26 years with the team.
Congratulations and well done to Caroline; the whole nursing team cannot thank her enough for her hard work and dedication over those four decades. Her wealth of knowledge in breast cancer care nursing is unbelievable and she is such a fantastic mentor, inspiration, manager and friend to the team.