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Amber Cuthbert - Sports - PlayersVoice

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My nurse, my anchor

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My nurse, my anchor

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Her name is Jo Lovelock. She’s been my anchor.

 

There was so much information coming at me, so much uncertainty and feelings of isolation. But Jo became, effectively, my case manager as I tried to find my way through this new world.

 

Jo is a McGrath Breast Care Nurse, funded through the McGrath Foundation. As many people know, the foundation was started by Jane and Glenn McGrath, as Jane went through treatment for breast cancer.

 

Jane was just 31 when she was first diagnosed. When she was diagnosed a second time, she had access to a breast care nurse. She said it was like, ‘having someone hold my hand through one of the worst nightmares of my life.’

 

Jane’s legacy remains strong. People like me are proof.

 

I was 44 when I found out I had breast cancer. I’d been living a busy life, working hard and doing renovations at home. It was a complete shock.

 

The news came in sections. It’s not as though you have a single appointment and are told what you’re facing. For me, the process took two or three months in late 2017. It involved seeing numerous specialists.

 

Jo was so helpful. She provided me with a sounding board and extra reading material, which helped me better understand what was going on.

 

 

I’m a researcher and a gatherer, so having that bit more clarity helped ease some of the anxiety. It helped me manage my expectations.

 

Jo had herself been through breast cancer at 44. She’d undergone surgery, four rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and an oophorectomy (the removal of one or both ovaries).

 

She could understand how valuable it was to translate what the results meant for me and how to prepare for what lay ahead. She knew the importance of me knowing I had peer support.

 

 

 

FILLING IN THE GAPS

I live in Mornington, outside of Melbourne. Being in a regional community and living with breast cancer can feel especially isolating. Jo put me in touch with other young women in the area who were in a similar situation.

 

There were one or two people in the same age group, a year ahead of my journey, and it’s been really good to talk to them.

 

Jo – together with advice from the breast surgeon – helped with finding local health facilities so I could stay in the Mornington area as much as possible without travelling to Melbourne. We went through the options together, which made the whole thing much easier.

 

I was 44 when I found out I had breast cancer. I’d been living a busy life, working hard and doing renovations at home. It was a complete shock.

 

There is so much to take in when you’re thrust into a position like this. There are a whole lot of life changing decisions to make, things you don’t even consider. It’s as though Jo became a manager, as much as a nurse.

 

Going from specialist to specialist you always feel rushed. They’re on tight schedules and often get straight to the point when they talk to you.

 

After some appointments, Jo and I would share a coffee to debrief and take our time talking about the results. She would explain them to me and answer my questions.

 

Jo is a service that fills a gap in the medical system. She’s a middle-person you call or email for support or information, whereas it’s not easy to connect with specialists between appointments.

 

Jo is the glue that holds the whole thing together, a consistent person helping me, reassuring me.

 

Video courtesy of Channel 7

 

BY MY SIDE

I’ve spoken to Jo a lot about her role as a McGrath Breast Care Nurse. What she does is really interesting and, I believe, extremely important. Her own cancer experience, she says, doesn’t make her a better nurse, it gives her a different perspective.

 

She sees her role as empowering, educating and connecting people. I’d agree wholeheartedly. She knows very well how overwhelming it can all be, especially having gone through it herself.

 

It’s been amazing for me to know there is someone by my side who understands what I’m going through and is contactable at any time.

 

I always thought breast cancer was an older person’s disease. It’s so confusing to face this at a relatively young age. It must have been like that for Jane, too.

 

I’m so thankful for the foundation Jane and Glenn established to make the experience for people like me more manageable.

 

 

 

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