Sue Perryman, 62, has been a McGrath Breast Care Nurse for six years and is based at both Queanbeyan and Goulburn Community Health Centres in NSW.
Sue Perryman started nursing in the mid-70s and found her niche in oncology.
“I had worked in so many different areas within the specialty but I really liked the technical side of nursing. With that I worked in chemotherapy units for around 25 years,” she says.
“I enjoy the whole treatment and clinical aspect, from the diagnostic stage to end of life. You have the opportunity to build ongoing contact with patients over months, sometimes years.”
The current NSW Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women, Bronnie Taylor, who was a McGrath Breast Care Nurse prior to becoming a politician inspired Sue to become a McGrath Breast Care Nurse.
“I’d always known about breast care nurses, but they were thin on the ground for a long time. I used to have palliative care meetings with a colleague, Bronnie Taylor, who became a McGrath Breast Care Nurse at Cooma and I thought, ‘That’s what I’d like to do.’
With“Everything I’ve done, I can bring together and concentrate on that one specialty in a very focused and concentrated way.”
One of the biggest roles of a McGrath Breast Care Nurse is advocacy for patients.
“There’s a lot of problem solving, emotional support, redirecting traffic and getting in touch with appropriate services. You are supporting people and speaking up on their behalf,” she says.
“A lot of people get lost in the system, they don’t know where to start so being a central contact point is one of biggest benefits that I can offer. The amount of appointments, tests, scans and information gets overwhelming, so having someone there who they can speak to about treatment takes the pressure off patients.”
While a big part of being a McGrath Breast Care Nurse is providing emotional support, it is also about providing clinical care.
“It is very science based. We are monitoring people, making judgements and decisions and calls about whether people need to be admitted to hospital,” Sue says.
It helps to have a strong background in oncology to do this role.”
Sue is based at a community health center rather than a hospital, which has an important impact on her role.
“I like the autonomy of being in the community health center. All McGrath Breast Care Nurses have different focuses, I’m a sole provider, however and I work with the Community Health team around me,” including community nurses. Social workers and palliative care, to name a few. she says.
“Being a part of the community means mine is a really long relationship with the patient, if that’s what they agree to. I still go to hospitals here and also have the capacity to do home visits after surgery, which is very useful.