How you’re helping support Kiwis during COVID-19 crisis - News & Updates • Breast Cancer Foundation NZ

How you’re helping support Kiwis during COVID-19 crisis

How you’re helping support Kiwis during COVID-19 crisis

Being able to access a trusted source of information and reassurance via our website, social media, nurse advice helpline and online patient platform, mybc, has eased people’s worries. Meanwhile, the crisis has shone a light on how another innovative Breast Cancer Foundation NZ (BCFNZ) support service - already underway thanks to you, our donors - was ahead of the game.

Late last year, BCFNZ and Midcentral DHB (Palmerston North) partnered to offer Thriving, a support service that’s an alternative to outpatient clinic follow-up for low-risk early breast cancer patients who’ve completed surgery and radiation therapy. The Thriving service, available to selected early breast cancer patients and those with DCIS, is being managed by BCFNZ nurse Melissa Warren. Patient numbers are steadily growing.

Her oldest patient is an active 90-year-old who volunteers for two days a week at an op shop and is a keen golfer, while the youngest is in her early 40s. Melissa calls and emails patients at regular intervals - a service that will continue for five years after their primary breast cancer treatment. If they need to, patients can also contact Melissa between scheduled times to discuss any concerns.

Like all hospitals around the country, Palmerston North Hospital is trying to reduce the number of people attending appointments in person at this risky time. Our new service meets that need perfectly. And when COVID-19 is over, not having to attend 15-minute hospital appointments in person will mean less hassle for patients and a freeing up of outpatient clinic resources to deliver best care to new or high-risk breast cancer patients.

“It’s a really exciting innovation,” Melissa says. “This new approach considers patients’ emotional and psychological as well as physical wellbeing, and it involves whānau, too. The traditional model of follow-up was disease focused and not helpful for people in moving forward. This puts them more in control.” Melissa says.

Melissa texted the patients the day New Zealand went into lockdown, reassuring them that she was just a phone call away during the isolation period. “So this service has been very timely,” she says.

She says the aim is for patients to thrive and move forward after breast cancer treatment. We wouldn’t be able to continue running services like this without the amazing generosity of so many Kiwis like you during this challenging time.

That’s why we’ve been so grateful for the outpouring of support people have shown through our emergency ‘Pink Bubble’ campaign, launched in response to the COVID-19 crisis. By making a donation to join our virtual ‘Pink Bubble’, you can help to make sure everyone affected by breast cancer continues to receive the best possible support.

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