Yesterday we started discussing supportive care and how we believe it should be provided in South Africa.
All members of the multidisciplinary team, including the general practitioner, surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, nurse, oncology social worker and other allied health staff, have a role in the provision of supportive care. Breast Cancer organisations like the members of ABC are also part of this team.
The biggest hurdle when it comes to providing supportive care is time. Many of our specialist breast health units are understaffed and many of our doctors and healthcare workers are under huge pressures to see as many patients as possible.
Imagine what it is like for a nurse in a primary care clinic who sees the long lines of people in need every day. He or she may have the best intentions of providing supportive care, but the pressures of having to see as many people as possible, as quickly as possible can make this very difficult.
Because the needs of the person with cancer change over time as they go through treatment or as their disease progresses, these questions need to be asked again and again. If that doesn’t happen, then there will be no opportunity to refer the patient to the individuals or organisations that can give them the support they need.
We need to come up with innovative ways to find out the needs of people living with breast cancer. We’d welcome your ideas! Please let us know what you think in the comments.