McGrath Breast Care Nurses are free

Continuing care: Many McGrath Breast Care Nurses normally work face-to-face, but COVID restrictions mean switching to video and phone calls. Photo: Supplied
Continuing care: Many McGrath Breast Care Nurses normally work face-to-face, but COVID restrictions mean switching to video and phone calls. Photo: Supplied

The McGrath Foundation is a registered charity, and its mission is to ensure that no one goes through breast cancer without the care of a McGrath Breast Care Nurse.

This free and beneficial patient care hasn't been exempt from COVID restrictions, but it was quick to adapt.

Often a face-to-face service, any time a lockdown has been in place, the solution is to make contact over video or phone calls, as is already done in some remote areas.

"It's probably made things a bit more challenging because it's taken away that physical interaction you would normally have where you bounce off one another," McGrath Breast Care Nurse Sarah Maguire said.

For people who discover they have breast cancer, "it's a very overwhelming diagnosis, and we're here to offer support throughout their treatment plan, which can involve surgery, chemo and recovery," Sarah explained.

Patient Brega van Vugt, 33, is looked after by McGrath Breast Cancer Nurse Melanie Fisher.

"My relationship with Melanie is very open, and I feel extremely comfortable with her," Brega said.

"She was there from when they dropped the bomb that I have breast cancer and has been with me the whole way through. It's been good to know that I have that constant support person.

"If I have any issues, if I need to change an appointment or I don't understand something, I always know Melanie will take care of it.

"When you're diagnosed with breast cancer, there's a lot you go through and things you don't expect, so it was so important to have someone who understands and can navigate the situation.

"Having a McGrath Breast Care Nurse isn't like calling a switchboard and speaking to someone faceless. It's very personal, and they're with you throughout that process.

"She always understood my situation and could make things easier for me."

One of the ways that funds are raised to provide these nurses to patients for free is the Pink Up Your Town campaign held throughout Australia each October.

More than just fundraising, though, there's a morale boost from entire towns showing their support.

"I think Pink Up Your Town shows people who are diagnosed that their community cares and they are all invested in helping them in recovery," Sarah said.

"And personally, it lets me know that what I'm doing is having a positive impact; patients are getting their needs met. It makes me proud to be part of the McGrath Foundation, and it helps me appreciate the community in which I live. It's incredible to see."

GIVE WHAT YOU CAN

Local volunteers across Australia form committees and organise various activities to help raise much-needed funds for the McGrath Breast Care Nurses.

By supporting Pink Up Your Town, here or in any region, you are helping to ensure the ongoing services of these nurses and the helpful free care they provide to breast cancer patients.

For more information, visit the wesbite pinkupyourtown.com.au.

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