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Helping patients and whanau navigate the cancer journey.

"Weaving the way" was the theme of the 14th National Haematology and Oncology Nurses' Conference, held in Christchurch from March 23-24. This theme highlights the important role nurses and other health professionals play in helping patients and their whanau navigate their journey from cancer diagnosis and treatment, through to coping with their illness and maximising their quality of life. The programme was opened by Life coach Phil Kerslake who spoke on his experiences of cancer. A six-times lymphoma survivor, he spoke of his tactical use of psycho-social measures to support his recovery.

Professor of nursing and director of research at the University of Sydney, Kate White, gave a key note address titled "Opportunities and challenges in cancer nursing" This focused on the aged patient with cancer and the growing evidence of "under-treatment" of the elderly. Faced with a growing aged population, White emphasised the principles of aged care. These included the need for extensive assessment, eg cognitive function and assessment of co-morbidities. She also emphasised the importance of carers of elderly cancer patients as members of the decision making process to enable a quality outcome for the patient. White spoke about survivorship issues and her research into nurse-led follow-up care. Follow-up care included support for the recovering patient, and support for those in transition from acute care to achieving health and recovery. These clinics were called wellness clinics and were situated in the community. The conference covered all facets of haematology and oncology nursing and included speakers with expertise in childhood and adolescent cancer (clinical director of the South Island Child Cancer Service, Rob Corbett) to issues of support for surviving cancer (CanSupport coordinator with the Wellington Cancer Society Sue Corkill). Clinical issues were covered with an overview of multiple myeloma from a young and elderly perspective (consultant haematologist at Palmerston North Hospital Bart Baker) to an update on breast cancer treatment in New Zealand focusing on both current and future treatment trends (breast cancer researcher Anna Bashford).

The concurrent sessions, which enable nurses in clinical practice to share their work, were informative. The presentations included comparisons between patients' and nurses' understandings of cancer patients' quality of life, innovative practice such as nurse-led clinics in oncology practice, as well as results of research for practice issues. Among these was a clinical trial using 70 percent ethanol to prevent luminal microbial colonisation in cuffed tunnelled catheters, the efficacy of mechanical protection of the skin during radiation therapy, and development of an extravasation policy. The conference was attended by 200 delegates, speakers, poster presenters and exhibitors. The opportunity to network, gain knowledge and up-skill on innovative clinical practice was invaluable. Congratulations to chair Glynis Cumming and members of the organising committee for a well organised and well structured conference and for the entertaining conference dinner "A night at the races" To borrow from Sue Corkill, a Lot of us went home, not only passionate about nursing, but also passionate about horse racing!

Report by cancer nurses' section chair Trish Clark
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Title Annotation:SECTION/COLLEGE NEWS
Author:Clark, Trish
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Date:May 1, 2007
Words:498
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