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Three new specialist nurses appointed to support patients with secondary breast and colorectal cancer

24 May, 2023

Patients with incurable secondary breast and colorectal cancer are benefitting from the support of three new specialist nurses.

Donna Owen-Williams, Nia Whelan and Katie Hughes have been appointed as the Health Board’s first Metastatic Clinical Nurse Specialists.

Metastatic cancer occurs when the cancer spreads to other parts of the body. Whilst treatment options are available to help control the cancer, improve quality of life and help people live longer, there is sadly no cure.

The nurses are on hand to support patients through the complex physical and emotional effects of the disease, coordinate treatment and care, signpost to support services and act as a direct point of contact for questions or concerns.

Metastatic Clinical Nurse Specialist for Ysbyty Gwynedd, Donna Williams, who previously worked on Alaw Day Unit, said: “Our patients living with metastatic cancer require specialist support to address their complex needs and the uncertainty they face about the future. Our roles are helping to ensure they receive the best possible treatment and care.

“I have previously worked on Alaw Day Unit and when I qualified I worked on Aran Ward caring for patients with COVID so this is a very good next step for me in my nursing career.

“It is very exciting to be part of developing a new service for the Health Board.”

Nia Whelan, Metastatic Clinical Nurse Specialist for Glan Clwyd Hospital, who began her nursing career in the 90s but later returned to the profession after raising her family, said these new nursing roles will help deliver true personalised care for this group of patients.

She said: “These are much needed nursing posts that will help the us deliver true personalised care for our patients and will have an immediate and positive impact on people affected by cancer in our region.

“Having worked on the chemotherapy day unit at Glan Clwyd Hospital I understand how important it is to build that relationship with your patients. We are the keyworker, it really is specialised professional nursing care and it’s a privilege for me to support my patients to be able to live their life as normal as possible after they’ve been told their cancer is incurable.”

Katie Hughes, Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s Metastatic Clinical Nurse Specialist, who has previously worked for Nightingale House Hospice and Severn Hospice, said there has been a significant gap in support for those patients with metastatic cancer.

She said: “Our new roles will ensure that those with metastatic cancer have the dedicated support they need.

“Receiving a metastatic cancer diagnosis is distressing and patients will have many questions and worries. We hope to alleviate some of those concerns by being a source of support from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond.

“As well as helping to coordinate treatment and appointments, we also support people through the emotional and psychological impact their diagnosis has on them and their family.

“We are just a phone call away should a patient have any queries or concerns, which can give comfort and reassurance at a really worrying time.”

Sian Hughes-Jones, Head of Nursing for the Cancer Division, said: “I have a passion for listening and responding to the needs of patients. The message from both patients and clinical teams was that there was a great need for these roles across the Health Board. I am very proud of the team and look forward to supporting them to deliver the best care and experience to our patients.”