IN THE PINK: Lismore McGrath Breast Care Nurse Karen Hennings (left), and local breast cancer patient, Donna Cronin, have been chosen to travel to Sydney to attend the Pink Test in early January and represent the McGrath Foundation and the 18,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia each year.
IN THE PINK: Lismore McGrath Breast Care Nurse Karen Hennings (left), and local breast cancer patient, Donna Cronin, have been chosen to travel to Sydney to attend the Pink Test in early January and represent the McGrath Foundation and the 18,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia each year. Alison Paterson

Nurses provide critical support to breast cancer patients

IN TIMES of distress, knowing someone is just a phone call away can be an enormous comfort.

For Ballina resident Donna Cronin, being diagnosed with breast cancer 16 months ago was a traumatic time.

Ms Cronin said the support from Lismore Base Hospital's McGrath breast care nurse, Karen Hennings , was invaluable in supporting her on the rollercoaster from diagnosis to recovery.

"Everything happened so quickly,” she said.

"I had sore breasts, saw my doctor, had a mammogram and the next day learned I had breast cancer.”

Ms Cronin said her surgeon immediately put her in contact with Ms Hennings.

"I was fortunate that in my case the cancer was caught early and I had lumpectomy surgery in which only the tumour and some surrounding tissue is removed, rather than losing my breast,” she said.

"Karen was wonderful, she came to my home and explained to me what was ahead of me and what I could expect.

"Accessing the service the McGrath breast care nurses provide is free and you don't have to make an appointment.”

Ms Hennings, who has been in the role for four years, said the service provided by the McGrath breast care nurses offer was critical.

"The support we can offer can make a really positive difference,” she said.

"As professional and qualified nurses we care for people with both early and metastatic breast cancer, across both public and private health services.

"Our services are available for free and without a referral, it's as simple as checking our website and finding your nearest nurse.”

Next month the pair are travelling to Sydney to attend the Pink Test on January 3 to 7, where they will join two other nurses and patients representing the McGrath Foundation and the 18,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia each year.

"It's very exciting,” Ms Cronin said.

"Together Karen and I will be doing lots of interviews, for me it's a way to show my gratitude for the wonderful support I have had from the McGrath Foundation.”



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