A day in the life of a breast cancer nurse

Ash Mondolo is a proud nursing clinician working in the field of breast cancer care across Mater in Queensland, tasked with supporting, nursing and caring for some of the 18 000 Australian women who are diagnosed with breast cancer each and every year.

Every day, Ash and her colleagues care for women across the breast cancer continuum—from diagnosis and treatment, through to follow-up appointments, and inpatient and outpatient care.

“As a Breast Care Nurse, I support women with breast cancer and every day is as different and diverse as each woman’s own breast cancer journey,” Ash said.

Ash forms part of each patient’s breast cancer team including surgeons, oncologists and allied health experts, working in collaboration with the treatment team as well as independently as the Clinical Nurse Consultant.

“I work with a team of dedicated specialists as the primary point of contact for our patients who have breast cancer. In the early stage of a breast cancer diagnosis, I help to translate the oncologist’s and surgeon’s advice into something that can be easily understood, to take some of the complexity out of their diagnosis and treatment plan.”

“During their admission to hospital at Mater, I support my patients with wound care and pain management, along with psychosocial support as they recover from surgery.”

“Some of my patients will require subsequent treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy and during this time, my colleagues and I provide assurance, knowledge and hope.”

“Amongst all of this, my job is also to listen to patients and open the door to any psychological and emotional support they may need, help guide them through their breast cancer treatments and empower them to make informed decisions throughout their cancer journey.”

Ash shared that it is difficult to summarise her role as each day brings new challenges, tailored to the individual breast cancer patient.

“Women are diagnosed with breast cancer at different ages, different stages in life, and can be diagnosed with various subtypes of breast cancer which sees every woman going through cancer affected in a different way.”

“I have cared for hundreds of women with breast cancer and no two stories are ever the same as every woman’s experience is really unique.”

“I look at my patient as a ‘person’ rather than simply their diagnosis with cancer, as this helps me provide the right mix of support tailored to each of my patients.”

Ash added that one of the hardest realities she has to face is that some of her patients do not survive breast cancer.

“My job is hard at times and knowing that some of my patients will not survive is the biggest challenge I face as a Breast Care Nurse, but it gives me the drive to continue to advocate for more awareness of breast cancer and to support people in understanding that early detection really does save lives.”

By supporting Mater Chicks in Pink you can make an immediate impact on the lives of women with breast cancer and their families today, as well as contribute to promising research which will benefit the women who walk through our doors tomorrow and well into the future.

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, make an impact and support Mater Chicks in Pink here

Pictured: Some of Mater's breast cancer care experts at the 2020 RACQ International Women's Day Fun Run - (L - R) Clinical Nurse Consultant Jen Dalton, Mater's Director Surgical & Acute Care and breast and endocrine specialist surgeon Dr Chris Pyke, Clinical Nurse Consultant Ash Mondolo, breast and endocrine specialist surgeon Dr Jason Lambley, breast and endocrine specialist surgeon Dr Ben Lancashire and breast and endocrine specialist surgeon Dr Heidi Peverill.

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