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Monday, 13 December 2010

Behind the scenes at Kingston Hospital

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – Sue Stilwell, Senior Oncology Nurse Specialist at Kingston Hospital talks about why she works to help kid’s fight cancer!

The diagnosis of cancer is very traumatic for anyone, let alone children and their families. Currently Kingston Hospital’s Paediatric Oncology Team is busy treating 60 patients, 37 of these are from the local area,19 are in temporary care from St George’s and four are international patients from Malta and Cyprus.

Sue Stilwell, Senior Oncology Nurse Specialist at Kingston Hospital sheds some light on what it is like to try and help make poorly kids feel better on a day-to-day basis.

How long have you work at Kingston Hospital?
I came to Kingston Hospital in 1998 as a Student Nurse on the Paediatrics Ward. It is here that my work passion and admiration lie.
From giving children their medication to liaising with clinicians about patient care - I’m always hard at work.

On a normal working day what do you do?

My work is very rewarding and the kind of treatment offered is very different for each child, depending on their age, stage of treatment and how unwell they are feeling. Part of my daily routine is to review the inpatients, make plans for their care and to plan safe discharge. This could involve organising blood transfusions or administering antibiotics, right through to liaising with The Royal Marsden, University College of London and Great Ormond Street, for the best course of action to take for our patients.

I also help in the Ward by administering medication, such as chemotherapy, I help make children comfortable, I teach and assess staff, and I set up blood support. At all times I try and ensure excellent communication between staff, young teenagers, children and families.

What really made you want to work in Paediatric Oncology?

I spent some time working in the community with the Paediatric Outreach Nursing Team, who help oncology children in their home environment. During this journey I witnessed how brave children diagnosed with cancer and their families are. Seeing amazing kids with such a strong spirit to fight for their life is just incredible. It is because of this spirit I decided to continue my career in Paediatric Oncology.

Is it an emotional job?

The diagnosis of cancer brings with it many emotions, especially the area of palliative care of children. This is an area that as a team we have to deal with, sadly quite a bit, and it is very hard to do this, but the children and their families are brilliant, they never give up. The children continue the fight and show outstanding bravery during what must be the toughest time in their lives.

However, sometimes they don’t always win the fight and it is then that we help them with their choices; to spend the rest of their life at home, in a hospice or at the Hospital. My job then is to make a plan for the patient, so that they are as comfortable as possible, I do this whilst working along side the palliative care teams at the tertiary centres and the children’s community nursing team.

Some children actually choose to stay in the Hospital, as they feel extra safe and many of our patients consider the staff to be part of their family. It is very hard when tough times happen, but I have to remember that making the kids as comfortable as possible is my main priority.

What is the best part of your job?

When you hear that a child has gone into remission it brings a smile to your face, as you know you helped that child recover. I remember a patient who was undergoing treatment with me whilst taking their GCSEs, they managed to get outstanding results, whilst fighting their cancer..
posted by Radio Jackie News Team @ 5:02 pm  

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