Like so many of our NHS Heroes, Claire Duffy, Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Clinical Nurse Specialist for Head and Neck Cancer, has been providing vital care and support for her patients throughout the last number of months. Maghera native Claire, whose post has been funded by local charity Friends of the Cancer Centre for the last four years, cares for patients and families affected by head and neck cancer through her vital work at the Cancer Centre in Belfast. Claire, who is the only nurse of her kind in Northern Ireland, supports patients and their families through their oncology treatment and into survivorship. Claire is one of 36 staff funded by Friends of the Cancer Centre, who have all continued their vital work since the start of the pandemic last year.
In her role, Claire supports patients who are receiving radiotherapy and chemotherapy. In her own Nurse Led Clinic, Claire meets patients to begin offering holistic support to them, their carers and families, which will continue throughout their treatment.
Speaking about her role, Claire said: “A cancer diagnosis can be a very daunting experience, particularly in the midst of Covid-19, but I am here to help to break down exactly what treatment means for patients, provide practical support, and act as a key point of contact for patients, even after their treatment has been completed. I review patients at a variety of different clinics and provide tailored specialist advice which can include advising on issues relating to symptom control and signposting patients to other services including emotional wellbeing support, smoking cessation, financial support, and advice on talking to children about a cancer diagnosis.
“The past year has been incredibly challenging, but thanks to Friends of the Cancer Centre my work has continued. The charity plays a significant role in supporting head and neck cancer patients, not only through their funding of my post, but also more widely, by helping to make what is a difficult time for patients that little bit easier.”
For over 35 years, Friends of the Cancer Centre has been dedicated to making a real and meaningful difference to cancer patients and their families across Northern Ireland. The charity is here to enhance the quality of patient care and support through its life-changing and life-saving work, which has continued throughout the pandemic. The charity’s work includes funding additional nurses, supporting local research and providing practical support, such as financial grants, which help families through a difficult time. Friends of the Cancer Centre relies entirely on the generosity of the local community and all money donated stays in Northern Ireland, directly benefitting patients and their families.
Colleen Shaw, chief executive of Friends of the Cancer Centre, said: “As a charity we are really proud to support Claire’s vital work as it is making an incredible difference to so many families in Northern Ireland.
“Claire’s post, and the other posts funded by Friends of the Cancer Centre, is only possible thanks to the generosity of local people. The past year has been incredibly difficult for the charity, but we have worked hard to ensure we can be here for patients in these most challenging times. We would like to say a really big thank you to all those who support the charity as this support is making posts like Claire’s a reality.”
To find out more about Claire’s role and more about the work of Friends of the Cancer Centre, visit the charity’s website at www.friendsofthecancercentre.com.
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