The Standard

One in five people diagnosed with breast cancer will miss out on a breast care nurse

New research commissioned by the McGrath Foundation reveals that one in five people in Australia experiencing breast cancer will miss out on the vital support of a dedicated breast care nurse this year. Picture supplied

When Samantha Jarnet was diagnosed with breast cancer her McGrath Breast Care Nurse became one of the most important people in her life.

Just ten days into chemotherapy the 41-year old mother of four's mental health spiralled out of control and she became suicidal. It was the individual care she received from her breast care nurse that changed her life.

"In a moment of crisis, I called my McGrath Breast Care Nurse, Sarah Maguire," Samantha said.

"She literally turned my world around and helped me access the support I needed - I wouldn't be here without her.

"I could no longer sleep and I found it hard to breathe. Sarah heard in my voice over the phone that I was at breaking point.

"She calmed me down, reassured my husband and got in contact with a psychiatrist who was able to help me.

Samantha Jarnet with her McGrath Breast Care Nurse, Sarah Maguire. Picture supplied

"She had it done on the spot, exactly when I needed it.

"When nobody else was able to help, she was."

What Samantha would have done without Sarah's care and support is anyone's guess.

No one should miss out on vital care

Vital supportive care after a breast cancer diagnosis and during treatment makes a huge difference to the quality of life for both patients and their families. In some cases, like Samantha's, it can almost be the difference between life and death.

But new research commissioned by the McGrath Foundation reveals that one in five people in Australia experiencing breast cancer (23 per cent) will miss out on the vital support of a dedicated breast care nurse this year.

No one should miss out on the vital care a breast care nurse can provide. Picture supplied

"A breast cancer diagnosis can be life changing and it's our mission to ensure that no one goes through breast cancer without the care of a breast care nurse," McGrath Foundation CEO, Holly Masters said.

"Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a timely reminder of why it's critical that we reach our goal to fund 250 McGrath Breast Care Nurses by 2025 and address this gap in care.

"We are calling on Australians to help us to reach this goal because we want to make sure no one misses out on care."

McGrath Foundation CEO Holly Masters. Picture supplied

To raise awareness of how vital this support is and the gap in care, the McGrath Foundation has released an emotive content campaign ahead of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October.

The campaign highlights the ways McGrath Breast Care Nurses help those diagnosed with breast cancer, especially under trying and complicated circumstances, and how early access to a McGrath Breast Care Nurse improves the experience and outcomes of a person with breast cancer.

Thirty one year old Christine Bayeh's story is one of those the campaign tells.

Christine's story

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is challenging enough, but when that coincides with the happy news of a pregnancy, a range of other uncertainties come into focus.

After diagnosis, Christine's surgeon reassured her she would be able to keep the baby and treat the breast cancer, and introduced her to breast care nurse, Bronwyn Williams.

"She was just such a sweet, relaxed, caring person," Christine said.

Christine Bayeh and her daughter Chloe with her McGrath Breast Care Nurse, Bronwyn Williams. Picture supplied

"She gave me her number straight away and said call me if you need anything."

Bronwyn has been a breast care nurse for over 15 years and is passionate about supporting her patients through the challenging experience of breast cancer.

"For Christine, there was huge concern about not being able to progress with the pregnancy.

"It was my job to walk her through everything step by step and reassure her she would be safe to carry her baby," Bronwyn said.

After giving birth to a healthy son, Christian, and more recently a daughter Chloe, Christine is now coming up to five years post breast cancer, and the pair are still extremely close.

"Bronwyn was my saviour during that time," Christine said.

"Without Bronwyn I don't think I would have coped.

It's not the same relationship you have with a doctor, she has seen so many people go through this and could reassure me about everything."

You can help address the gap in care

Since it began in 2005, the McGrath Foundation has supported more than 110,000 individuals and families impacted by breast cancer and now funds 185 McGrath Breast Care Nurses, providing free care and support across the country.

With research indicating the incidence of breast cancer is rising in Australia, more than 20,000 people are expected to be diagnosed in 2022, the ongoing need for specialist breast care nurses continues to grow.

"McGrath Breast Care Nurses are at the heart of breast cancer care, from the time of diagnosis and throughout treatment," McGrath Foundation Ambassador and Director, Tracy Bevan said.

McGrath Foundation Ambassador and Director, Tracy Bevan. Picture supplied

"I hope this campaign highlights how integral they are to the emotional, physical and psychological wellbeing of breast cancer patients.

"We are working towards a future where everyone has access to this vital care, but we can't do it without the support of the community."

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Foundation is calling on the nation to visit and make a donation to support its goal to fund 250 McGrath Breast Care Nurses by 2025.

To find out more and ensure that no one misses out on care go to:

  • ACM, publisher of this website, is a proud community partner of the McGrath Foundation.