Cancer nurse reflects on the past year

Date: 13/05/2021

Milton Keynes University Hospital nurse Samantha Timmins has shared her experience of being on the frontline of cancer treatment through the pandemic, ahead of European Cancer Nursing Day on 18 May.

Samantha, a Macmillan Wellbeing Nurse Specialist, and her colleagues at MKUH’s Cancer Centre have worked through a challenging period since COVID-19 arrived in the UK in early 2020.

Sam said: “I was redeployed to another ward one day a week but had to keep up my own role as well, because people still needed treatment for cancer.

“Supporting my patients virtually or over the phone was sometimes really difficult because as nurses we pick up so much from our patients in person, especially non-verbal cues and emotions.

“It’s made me realise how much I really value and appreciate the face-to-face contact in supporting and maintaining good relationships with my patients and their loved ones.”

Despite the pressure of being on the frontline during the pandemic, there have been rays of hope for the MKUH cancer teams and their patients and families.

She said: “The best thing about last year was settling into our lovely new Cancer Centre and feeling grateful for the additional space to ensure social distancing. Whilst it hasn’t been the year we expected, we have all pulled together as a team to support each other so we could still be there for people with cancer.

“I also think that continuing to work throughout the pandemic has been a great learning opportunity. Redeployment and changes in the way we work daily has shown how dynamic nurses are. And working through those challenges with our patients has been so rewarding.”

In March 2021, staff and patients celebrated the one-year anniversary since the opening of the Cancer Centre and the team are looking forward to extending the services in the future.

Sam said: “The wellbeing team and I have so much we are excited to reinstate, and we really want to develop new group support and sessions. Hopefully soon enough we can use the space and rooms we have in our Macmillan Wellbeing Lounge to offer a variety of support and activities for our patients.”

Sally Burnie, Head of Cancer Services at MKUH, said: “All the team have worked incredibly hard during the pandemic to deliver the best possible service to patients and their families and I would like to thank them for all of their efforts as we continue with our plans to extend our services throughout the rest of the year.”

Pauline Craig, Macmillan Partnership Manager for Milton Keynes, said: “We are so grateful to Sam, her colleagues and all nurses working everywhere for the care, compassion and sheer professionalism they have shown in coping with the additional pressures brought about by the pandemic. At Macmillan we are doing whatever it takes to support our nurses as well as patients and the goodwill and support of the public will help us to achieve that goal.”