Monday 10th September 2012
Wendy White, Lymphoma and Young Persons’ Clinical Nurse Specialist, on helping young people with complex needs.
As a Macmillan lymphoma and young persons’ clinical nurse specialist, I’m a key worker for the growing number of people diagnosed, treated and living with lymphoma. I support this group of patients and their families by coordinating the necessary investigations and care, from diagnosis to follow-up.
My role was established because Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust needed a nurse working in adult oncology to help implement the teenage and young adults improving outcomes guidance. Paring this position with a focus on lymphoma was thought to be a suitable combination because lymphoma is one of the most common forms of cancer for teenagers and young adults.
I work closely with teams managing young people with cancer in adult and paediatric services to ensure their supportive care is well-managed within the resources available.
Covering a population of around 600,000, we see between 12 and 14 teenage and young adults (TYA) diagnosed with cancer each year - small numbers with complex needs.
I have to prioritise my work to fulfil both roles, which is often quite a challenge. All young people are offered psycho-social support by the TYA Clic Sargent team, and their cases are reviewed at the principle treatment centre’s TYA multidisciplinary team meeting. I make sure there is prompt communication from the time of malignancy suspicion to diagnosis to prevent delay of treatment if transfer of care is necessary.
I am also the key worker for people without a sitespecific CNS, sharing this duty with other CNSs.
The oncology young persons’ services (for 16–24 year olds) are currently under review with ongoing consultations. I’m involved with local and network planning to deliver care in the future that adheres to National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence guidance.
Eventually, working within these guidelines, everyone between 16 and 19 will be referred for treatment to the principle treatment centre at Southampton (with shared care locally) and those between 20 and 25 years will be given the choice of treatment in age appropriate facilities at the local trust or the principle treatment centre.
Prior to this role, I was a head and neck oncology CNS for eight years, and before that, an NHS school nurse covering everything from assessments, child protection and health education. I have worked extensively with and studied the health needs and development of children and the TYA age group.
I’m currently developing pre-chemotherapy introductory group sessions based on feedback from a recent patient and family focus group. The aim of these sessions will be to help patients and families identify coping skills and introduce relaxation techniques with guided imagery and visualisation. All people diagnosed with cancer in the trust will be invited to attend to encourage peer support.
1. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Improving Outcomes in Children and Young People with Cancer. 2005
We have information about Hodgkin lymphoma
and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.