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Being a breast cancer nurse can be a challenge, but it's also incredibly rewarding

For International Nurses Day, we'd like to take a moment to recognise all the fantastic work our nurses do here at Breast Cancer Now.

For International Nurses Day, we'd like to take a moment to recognise all the fantastic work our nurses do here at Breast Cancer Now. We sat down with just a few of the nurses to talk about their roles.

Cassie, Clinical Nurse Specialist

Most days, I spend some time on the Helpline or answering ‘Ask Our Nurse’ emails. I enjoy these sessions as it is a chance to connect with people. I have taken on the lead for family history, so am spending time keeping up to date on current practice and looking at how we can develop information and support for people with a genetic high risk for developing breast cancer.

I really enjoy my Helpline shifts; it's great to have the time to just listen to people and be there for them, and to use my clinical knowledge to help make sense of what people are going through. We have such a great nursing team here with so much knowledge - I've only recently started at Breast Cancer Now, so I’m enjoying getting to know everyone and learning from their expertise!

After that, I might spend some time updating patient information on our website and in print, ensuring it is accurate and engaging. Sometimes I'll work on our Facebook Live sessions, which has been a fun new skill to learn! We try to reply to everyone who submits a question, either within the session or in the comments afterwards. 

Doing my first Facebook live was a milestone for me. It was so far out of my comfort zone, but once we got talking I really enjoyed it. 

Juggling all these parts of my role can be a challenge, but it's so rewarding to reach and support so many people! It's such a different way of working from my previous NHS role, but I'm really looking forward to the next few months!

If I wasn't a nurse, I like to think I'd be starring in the West End! I studied Film and Drama at university but definitely found my calling working in breast cancer nursing, so I really can't see myself doing anything else.

Katy, Clinical Nurse Specialist

The joy of this role is that my days are so varied, and no two days are the same! I work between the London and Sheffield offices and home, so even my commute and working environment is different each day!

Wherever I am, I usually start my day by catching up on emails and updating myself on any relevant news stories, research, drug or policy announcements specific to the breast cancer field. We then have a daily team meeting in the morning where we share any updates and discuss any topical issues.

The rest of my day is then spent responding to people via our email service or Helpline, which will always cover a wide variety of topics; from people who have noticed a breast change, to enquiries about treatment side effects and those wanting to talk through the emotional impact of a diagnosis of breast cancer. We are available to support anyone effected by breast cancer and frequently take calls from relatives as well as those with a diagnosis. It can be challenging to not know what the next question may be, but it means there's never a dull day.

I also write and review patient information, produce presentations for our online courses and prepare for our Facebook Live events. I've also had the opportunity to participate in a Q an A session with the Moving Forward services team, which was particularly rewarding. I really enjoyed speaking with people coming to the end of their treatment and answering their concerns and questions as they start to move on with their life.

If I wasn't a nurse, I think I'd be travelling the world in my campervan discovering beautiful places to open-water swim and horseride! However, I love working at Breast Cancer Now. The team is supportive, talented and experienced, and I have been made to feel so welcome.

Addie, Clinical Nurse Specialist

I’m a clinical nurse specialist for Breast Awareness, Breast Screening and Lymphoedema. I previously worked as a breast care nurse for 18 years as well as a lymphoedema specialist for two years. 

Now, I spend my time reviewing health information, responding to press interviews or articles, and helping other staff who may need some help with clinical information. Facebook, Instagram Lives and Health Care Professional webinars are increasingly part of our remit, so I work on those things, too. I also spend time on the Helpline and responding to Ask Our Nurse emails.

My favourite part of the job is that it is unpredictable, varied and so much less stressful than being a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the NHS! As well as the usual meetings and emails, I get to contribute my knowledge to our campaigns and partnerships. There are also some slightly unusual aspects, such as interviewing celebrities to raise awareness of certain topics and the profile of our great charity, which I really enjoy.

The biggest challenge, as for many people, has been the last two years. Getting used to working from home without seeing friends and colleagues face-to-face was tough.

If I wasn’t a nurse at Breast Cancer Now, I would like to have worked in Sexual/Women’s Health, which I previously enjoyed a role in.

Catherine, Clinical Nurse Specialist

I work across three different work sites - our offices in London and Sheffield, and my home - but I never have a 'typical' work day!

Wherever I am, however, my day starts with a cup of tea and checking my emails. The Nursing Team have a daily briefing meeting before our Helpline opens, so I’m updated on breast cancer news or developments which might prompt calls or emails and messages to our Ask Our Nurses service via our website, discussion forums, social media and online services.

Like everyone in the team I take my turn on the Helpline answering calls and emails and messages. At the moment, I’m also undertaking a review of quite a few of our publications on secondary breast cancer, so I spend quite a bit of my day on this. 

A stand-out moment for me during my role has been my work on co-ordinating the Secondary Breast Cancer Nursing Group, a network of nurses supporting those with secondary breast cancer or who are passionate about improving care. When I started, there were only about 20 of us. Now, there are over 170. I’m proud to know these nurses who do the most amazing job under difficult circumstances and who really strive to make a difference for those with a diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.

I think we have a continued challenge of ensuring that everyone who needs us knows that we are here for them. We still hear from people who’ve not used our services before who tell us they wished they’d known about us much earlier, as they’ve found our support invaluable.

If I could do any job, I think I’d still be working with people with breast cancer. I enjoyed my time in both private practice and the NHS working with patients, but I so enjoy the diversity of the role of being Breast Cancer Now nurse. I work with an amazing team, and we all use our skills and knowledge differently, but to achieve the same aim: supporting those who need us.


At Breast Cancer Now, we are so proud to work with so many fantastic nurses who consistently proivde their care and expertise to people who need it. If you have a question or concern for the team, you can get in touch via phone, email or by visiting The Forum.

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