A CRITICAL service that offers medical and emotional support to breast cancer patients throughout their turbulent journey faces a resource shortfall.
Sr Ann Steenbergen said without the invaluable help of Wagga’s McGrath Breast Care Nurse, Sue Munro, her experience with breast cancer from diagnosis to recovery would be drastically different.
Her sentiment comes as the McGrath Foundation released alarming findings that reveal there is currently a shortage of 79 breast care nurses across Australia – a shortfall that will grow by a further 38 per cent in just five years.
Sr Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer while living in Barellan last year, going on to spend two months undergoing treatment in Wagga.
“She (Sue) walked the journey with me the whole time,” Sr Ann said.
“I couldn't get over how caring and supportive she was.”
Ms Munro is one of two McGrath Foundation breast care nurses based in Wagga, whose role is to provide ongoing support to patients and their families.
Ms Munro has dedicated her nursing career to breast care services for the past 18 years and has been with the McGrath foundation since 2009 in Wagga.
With a huge geographical area to cover, a second breast care nurse in Monica Jessop was appointed to Wagga in May, but a shortfall still exists.
Increasing breast cancer incidence, a surge of people living with breast cancer, an ageing population and increased patient contacts means the demand for breast care nurses is far outstripping supply, according to Research by Australian Health and Hospital Association and the McGrath Foundation.
By 2020, 47 Australians will be diagnosed with breast cancer everyday and there will be a shortage of 109 breast care nurses.
It is a fact Ms Munro grapples with everday, as she varies information and support to patients and their familist each day.
“I feel very privileged to be in this position,” Ms Munro said.
“It’s something I’ve always been very passionate about.”
Sr Ann, who has since moved to Goulburn, said Ms Munro’s presence, passion, knowledge and sensitivity was invaluable.
“The McGrath Foundation, I can’t praise them enough,” Sr Ann said.
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