18 July 2017
Losing my mum to bowel cancer when she was 41 strengthened my pursuit of a career in health and helping others. Two years into my role with Cancer Council SA, I’m incredibly proud of the role I play in helping South Australians get back on track after cancer treatment.
As a Research and Evaluation Assistant, my job is kind of like being the ‘book ends’ of the Healthy Living after Cancer program. When someone joins the program, I run through how active they are, what they’re eating and what their general quality of life is like. I give them everything they need to get started with one of our nurses and at the end of the program, I assess the same factors to help quantify their success.
I get so much out of interacting with people who’ve had cancer and it motivates me to know that I’m making a difference. I have so much respect for the nurses that I work with each day, as I know how hard they work to empower people after the enormous challenge of cancer treatment.
While it’s rewarding, it’s not always easy. I feel a strong empathy towards anyone who is really distressed, but it feels good to know that they’re in the right place and that I can confidently place them in the care of our nurses.
I love working so closely with the nurses. They’re all so kind, friendly and generally lovely women. They’re passionate about helping the participants in the program and take a great level of care in supporting each person over the six months.
I’m thrilled to see the preliminary findings of the study are indicating participants are eating more fruit and vegetables and are engaging in a greater level of physical activity than when they started the program. It can be really inspiring to hear the contrast in participants’ outlook from the start to the end of the program. It always warms my heart to hear from someone who’s proud of their progress, or really satisfied with what they’ve learned.
Overall, I find that there are two stand out reasons that participants enjoy the program. One is the workbook. I often hear how valuable it is having something to continually refer to. Even for those who already knew the bulk of the information, seeing it in print can be a helpful reminder.
The other thing that participants really value is the regular contact and support from the nurses. People really benefit from talking through their goals, considering the barriers that get in the way of change, and taking steps to overcome these. The continual support helps to keep the participants on track and I find it so rewarding to be able to celebrate their success with them at the end.
If you or a loved one have finished cancer treatment, I encourage you to call 13 11 20 to see if Healthy Living after Cancer could make a difference to your future. I’d be honoured to help get you back on track.
Research and Evaluation Assistant
Cancer Council SA