Breast Clinic nurse has a heart for the patients
Sister Serena Murie has been a nurse for 33 years and in 2019 she took over the reins as the Breast Clinic Co-ordinator at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH), which sees about 6 000 new patients annually at the hospital. The work of the clinic is important to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of breast cancer.
Sister Murie (53) describes her duties at the hospital as follows: “As the co-ordinator, I serve the patients with passion. My job includes tracing patients who have come for biopsies and have been positive, co-ordinate patients who have to come for mammograms and manage the breast clinic that we have at the hospital every Friday, where we see on average 40 patients per week during the [current] lockdown period.”
Reflecting on Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Sister Murie explains that working in the Breast Clinic can be very emotional. “It is not easy working in the clinic especially when you see young people diagnosed with breast cancer. Young patients between 25 and 35 years old are diagnosed and you think to yourself that they still have their whole life ahead of them. [Some of them] have no children and [we] hear they have breast cancer. But we encourage them not to give up, we are the ear for them and listen to their concerns and do our best to help them emotionally.”
A young patient receiving treatment at the clinic is Toni Arendse, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. “I was playing with my son and felt three small lumps [in my breast]. I thought nothing of it and just left it. Two later it was still there, and I went to be tested at Groote Schuur Hospital and they diagnosed me with stage 1 breast cancer. I got the best treatment at the hospital and had double mastectomy followed by reconstruction surgery. I was so happy that my cancer was gone. Then in 2020 I went for a biopsy and the cancer was back, I now have stage 1b cancer and am getting treatment for it at the hospital.” recalls 28-year-old Toni.
“Having breast cancer is not the end of the world. Emotionally it is not nice for my son, husband and parents to see me like this while I am receiving chemotherapy. The second time round now it is even worse. But your support system and your faith are the things that get you through this. Mentally it can be very challenging to handle, and its vital to be around the people with a positive mindset. My advice to people is to have themselves checked out if they feel there is a lump. You don’t have to have a family history to get breast cancer, no one in my family had cancer. It does not matter how old you are, breast cancer can happen to anyone,” is what Toni advises.
Sister Murie shares Toni’s opinion, “When there are any signs of a lump - get help [immediately]. There is a reason why there is a lump in your breast. Don’t ignore it. We have services available to provide treatment. I also want to tell people not to give up, whatever you go through stay positive [and reach out to loved ones]. You are not alone fighting this battle, there are others here to encourage you.”
Groote Schuur Hospital
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