Bloomhill Cancer Care clients are among those touched by cancer to participate in a University of the Sunshine Coast research project investigating the experiences of bowel cancer and the benefits of having a dedicated cancer support nurse.

Having lost his mother and sister to bowel cancer, Jared Ardern is passionate about the need for support through a person’s experience with the disease.

“Three years ago I lost my 62-year-old mother to bowel cancer, during her last few months I saw how disconnected she was from support,” Mr Ardern said.

“We had so many questions and we could not get the answers. This was a huge stress for her as she felt she was letting us down.

“It broke my heart that she was thinking about us and our questions.

“Eighteen months later my youngest sister, she was 37, was diagnosed with Stage IV bowel cancer.

“This time we were a bit better prepared – and this time she had a cancer support nurse who helped her with her cancer and preparation for dying. She died six months later and I was grateful for the support she got from the cancer nurse. 

“We’ve been able to help and support her husband and children. This is why I’m doing this project –I want to help raise awareness of how places like Bloomhill and bowel cancer care nurses can help people through the cancer journey.”

Bloomhill has the only community based bowel care nurse on Sunshine Coast, and is excited to support the important USC research project, Chief Executive Officer Christopher John said.

“Last July, thanks to the support of Bowel Cancer Australia and Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA), we established a clinic with a specialist Bowel Care Nurse, Kirsty Ferguson,” Mr John said.

“Kirsty has already supported 74 bowel cancer clients (or family members as carers), providing authentic, personalised service at our sanctuary in Buderim. Our nurses, allied health services, diet and nutrition clinics, exercise physiology and other supports are here to help.

“She has provided more than 400 episodes of care (reviews and new assessments), and also covers the Bowel Cancer Australia nurse enquiries (national support telephone service) on a Thursday, in which she has responded to 41 enquiries.

“We have seen many clients go on to live a fulfilling life after diagnosis. Wellness, self-care and knowing the science of recovery are integral to this, in our experience.

“We can’t emphasise enough how important personalise support through a cancer experience is – from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.

“Being informed of the warning signs is also critical: early detection can truly save your life. For more information please see our website or Bowel Care Australia”

Get involved in the research

People diagnosed with bowel cancer aged 18 or over can participate in the USC survey. Participation will involve the completion of an online survey and a focus group interview, with dates in February now available.

Participants will be asked some questions about their experience with bowel cancer and the benefits and experiences of having a cancer support nurse.

The focus group interview will take around 60 minutes and held over the phone or via Telehealth. Ethics approval has been granted by USC.

For more information and to get involved, contact Jared by email: [email protected]

AUTHOR: Nicky Moffat. PHOTO: Jared Ardern, contributed. PUBLISHED: 17 February 2022.