From left, McGrath Foundation CEO Holly Masters, McGrath Breast Care Nurse Rikki Hopkins and Stephanie Thuillier
McGrath Foundation CEO, Holly Masters, today flew into Cairns to officially welcome new McGrath Breast Care Nurse, Rikki Hopkins, to Cairns and Hinterland Hospital.
With Cairns and its surrounding areas having the highest incidence of breast cancer in Queensland, and one in eight women diagnosed before the age of 85, the appointment is an important step in helping to improve breast cancer outcomes for individuals and families in Far North Queensland.
“Rikki is our second McGrath Breast Care Nurse based in Cairns, joining our wonderful McGrath Breast Care Nurse, Sandra Gregg who has been supporting the local community since 2009. We’re so proud to be able to provide greater support and access to care to families across the region going through breast cancer,” said McGrath Foundation CEO Holly Masters.
Research shows that people with breast cancer in remote areas have poorer outcomes than their metro counterparts, due to later diagnosis and limited access to cancer screening and treatment services.
“By placing nurses, like Rikki, in Far North Queensland, we are helping to ensure remote patients aren’t at a disadvantage, and are receiving the care they need,” Masters continued.
Rikki Hopkins has been nursing for 14 years, specialising in oncology, and later breast cancer care throughout her career.
“Working here in Cairns, I’ve seen firsthand just how great the need is for the care, knowledge and support that is provided by a breast care nurse. I’m thrilled to be working alongside Sandra to provide greater support to the people of Far North Queensland,” said Rikki.
“As part of my role I will be travelling to visit patients from Cairns, right up to Cape York. Being able to provide a link and support people in their own towns, closer to home will help to alleviate a great amount of stress,” she continued.
Sandra Gregg, the existing McGrath Breast Care Nurse in Cairns, has supported 1,179 families since 2009. Rikki and Sandra will work together to support an area spanning 380,780km2 including Cardwell, Normanton and Torres Strait Islands.
People in Cairns and surrounding areas can access the support of Rikki and Sandra by calling 07 42263952.
About Rikki Hopkins
Holding a nursing degree as well as a graduate certificate in breast cancer nursing, Rikki has focused her career on caring for people experiencing cancer in Cairns.
In 2008, Rikki was the regional winner of the Cancer Council Queensland’s Nurse of the Year, for her dedication to cancer care.
She is inspired by the strength and courage she sees in her patients every day during their breast cancer experience.
“Often people undergo an incredible transformation when they’re diagnosed with breast cancer, and find strength they never thought they had.”
To Rikki, the most rewarding part of her role is having the time to dedicate to her patients.
“I love feeling that I’m providing the best possible service to people in a time when they need me most,” she said.
 Queensland Government, Cancer in Queensland, 2012, p17
 Cancer Australia, Breast Cancer In Australia, <https://breast-cancer.canceraustralia.gov.au/statistics>
 Garvan Institute, 2016, A Rural Perspective: Cancer and Medical Research, < https://www.garvan.org.au/news-events/files/a-rural-perspective-cancer-and-medical-research.pdf>