Meet Charmaine, a Macmillan Breast Cancer Nurse Specialist at
St George’s Hospital in London.
‘I’ve been a Macmillan Nurse for 14 years. I started at The Royal Marsden and now work at St. George’s Hospital in Tooting.
‘I know that when someone’s diagnosed with cancer, it’s an earth-shattering moment. I’ve had patients scream, I’ve had patients faint.
‘I’ve also had patients just sit there quietly and say nothing – sometimes they’re the ones we worry about because we don’t know what they’re thinking. They don’t want to hear the word cancer because they associate it with death.
'My main role is to be there'
‘I know through experience that once someone’s told they have cancer they actually don’t hear anything else. I’m here to help navigate people through the pitfalls of that journey. Some of them think of me like their aunty because of the advice I give them.
‘Sometimes it’s just letting them offload their worries. They feel like they can’t talk to partners or family members because they don’t want them to see a chink in their armour. So I tell them they can talk to me about anything they want.
‘I’m also there to give them information – because information is power. I go through it with them at the time, but I also have a follow-up phone call to find out if they’ve digested it.
‘I also give them all my contact details so they can call me when they need to.
'I love my job because I know I make a difference. I can see a patient collapse at diagnosis or who’s so anxious that she rings me at three o’clock in the morning – and then see her come out the other side, stronger and able to talk about it.
'Being a Macmillan nurse is like wearing a badge of honour, and I love it.'
Charmaine and Della.
As you may have read in Della's story, Charmaine was there for Della when she needed her.
'I remember the day I met Della and we gave her the sad news that she had breast cancer and she said to me "I'm going to a party at the weekend. Can I still go?", and I said "yea, of course you can".
'Della's role as a single mum means she couldn't burden her children. I wanted her to know I was there for her and that's why email is great - because if she had a little worry, I could reassure her.'
Watch our inspiring video to see how nurses like Charmaine support people like Della.
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