Secondary breast cancer nurse

Sue Sharp - Secondary Breast Cancer Nurse SpecialistWomen in Worcestershire with secondary breast cancer are benefiting from a specialist nurse who helps them through the complex journey of treatments and emotions.

Sue Sharp,  is employed in by St Richard’s Hospice to work in partnership with Worcestershire Royal Hospital. (WRH)

Sue can often be involved from the first meeting when a woman is given the diagnosis of secondary breast cancer and says people react very differently.

“Patients are told very honestly that the cancer will never go away totally but there are treatments that can be offered to try and shrink or contain it and stop it spreading to other areas and improve symptoms so they are not getting any pain. “

“Some people go on to live for many years. For example, if someone has cancer which has spread to the bones and they have treatment that contains it, improves the symptoms and they are not getting pain then they can go to work, look after the children and go on holiday if that’s what they want.  At some point the cancer may get worse again, and they are offered more treatment. “

“Often a first major worry for someone is how they will pay the bills and mortgage or concerns their employer will make them redundant. I can help them through that maze by connecting them to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau worker at St Richard’s, who helps with issues on finance and benefits.  I also link them with the hospice physiotherapists and occupational therapists, our family support team for counselling and social work and any other services which I think will benefit them.”

Sue meets patients on wards in the Worcester Royal and also as outpatients there. “I introduce myself and talk about my role and start getting to know them and their needs so I can be a key link.  I think that’s the main difference for patients since I have taken on the role. Previously at diagnosis appointments they wouldn’t have had a nurse specialist with them when they hear results. Now they can phone me and say, ‘I can’t remember a word of what I was told’ and I can talk them through it. They now have one person they can contact rather than not knowing where to start. I might not always have the answers but I will try and find someone who might. “

“Although their illness is life-limiting the time scales over which we will see patients can be very wide.  We might see a patient treated for primary breast cancer, return with secondary cancer six months later, and others 15 or 20 years down the line.  Treatments have advanced so much there is often something to offer. “

Sue says lots of women want advice on issues such as weight gain, exercise, menopausal symptoms and nutrition, all of which she, or other hospice team members, are able to help with.


Coronavirus (COVID-19)

During this challenging time, we are doing our utmost to continue caring for the patients and loved ones who need us most.

The way we work has been adapted, with many of our services delivered remotely – such as over the phone, or by video call. And we are working closely with other health care professionals in Worcestershire to share knowledge and expertise at this time.

Latest changes at St Richard’s Hospice

  • In-patient Unit: It is with great sadness that due to stringent infection control measures, we are required to restrict visiting and cannot offer the comprehensive level of service in the way we usually do. However, we will still do our utmost to make sure that each patient and loved one is given the compassion and dignity they deserve. To help families stay in touch we are encouraging virtual visiting using technology such as video calls and apps. This will be discussed and explained to patients and families on admission and we can help provide access to equipment in the hospice. In addition, the IPU nursing team will liaise with each patient and family to arrange short daily visits from the patient's closest loved one and compassionate visiting, as appropriate. Read the full details here.
  • Community Nursing: Community services continue to operate, with a mixture of hands-on care and remote support.
  • Living Well and Family Support Services: Switched to virtual model, with care given remotely over the phone or via video call.
  • Shops: All 19 of our shops and warehouse are temporarily closed. Please do not leave donations outside our shops, as we are unable to collect them at this time.
  • Fundraising: All hospice organised events until the end of August have been postponed. If you wish to support us, please donate to our Resilience Fund.

Please do not visit St Richard’s Hospice if you have a high temperature or new, continuous cough. If you have these symptoms, please stay at home and self-isolate for seven days. See NHS advice on coronavirus.

Thank you for your support and understanding at this difficult time.