My story: Cancer nurse specialist

Jill Barker, an oncology specialist nurse at Addenbrooke’s, shares her love for the job – even though it involves following patients on some of the toughest journeys.

In a moving account, Jill says a big part of her job is providing psychological as well as practical support to patients and families, especially when they have been given a “hard diagnosis”.

Jill is one of a number of clinical nurse specialists (CNS) who are today (Tuesday 15 March) telling their personal career stories, through video and print, to mark National Cancer CNS Day 2022. Jill explains:

With my colleagues we look after patients with cancer of the liver, pancreas and biliary tract which can be very traumatic for both patients and their families. They have to come to terms with a hard diagnosis and go straight into treatment.
From there the patient might look at end of life care within a very short period, we act as the main link for patients and their treatment. We’re the glue that holds all the multi-disciplinary teams, the consultants, the doctors, and the treatment units together for the patients.

The roles undertaken by Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) are many and varied, they treat and manage the health concerns of patients and work to promote health and wellbeing in the patients they care for.

I think of psychological input as travelling with the patient and their family along their incredibly traumatic journey which is really humbling for us as CNSs because we get to know the patients, be part of their family. We have to know a lot of personal things about them, and we see a lot of raw emotions.
It's very insightful, it's hard but we're very lucky to do what we do.

Follow this link to read the stories of more Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialists who assist in cases of myeloma, urology and prostate and head and neck cancers.

Addenbrooke’s Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialists are just one of the many kinds of clinical expertise that will be brought together with world-class scientists across the University of Cambridge and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre in the new Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital. Together, they will work in the heart of new clinic and hospital spaces, bringing the research from the bench to the bedside.

Details of all the careers available at CUH can be found on the hospital's recruitment pages.