By Jan Richards

Monday 23rd August

A haematology nurse who worked in “the biggest bone marrow transplant” unit in Europe, Helen Dunne, has joined the clinical nursing team at Bloomhill.  Helen spent many years at University College London NHS Foundation Trust hospital, for some of that time with fellow Bloomhill nurse Kirsty - “such a small world”.  

While Helen says she is finding her feet and learning how it all works, she gives the impression that she has everything under control. 

A nurse for almost 20 years she always knew she wanted to work in haematology and oncology and started there as a student nurse.   

Helen says she enjoys oncology work because she gets to know her patients. “They are with you a long time, you become support for them and their family and are sharing their journey.” 

She also enjoys the challenge. “There are a vast array of disorders and treatment is always advancing and you are always learning. The hospital was attached to a university so we did a lot of clinical trials. We also had the first Covid cancer patients.” 

That was just before Helen and her family came to Australia, in May last year. Helen’s husband is an Aussie who “always wanted to get back here”. “We had been happy in Ely, but we wanted to try living somewhere else. So we thought let’s try and see how we go. We wanted to do it before the kids got too old, or it wouldn’t be fair on them.” 

Husband Shaun, also a nurse, is working at the Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital, as for Helen’s new job at Bloomhill she says “I feel very fortunate to work here. 

 “I saw the job and got all excited. It was what I had always had interest in, but instead of managing a patient load in a hospital it was in a charity setting.”  

As a member of the clinical nursing team Helen is involved in client consultation and treatment planning. She says as well as taking new clients she has taken over some clients and is getting to know them. She talks about the importance of helping clients through the various stages of their cancer journey and the follow-up necessary to ensure they have the help they need. 

“Some clients are reactivated. They may have been feeling ok and managing their treatments and life, but begin to struggle again. Cancer treatment is ongoing so we make sure they are coping and accessing what they need. 

“If they are having surgery it’s important to check in. There are nerves and anxiety around surgery and appointments. We can validate their anxiety, it’s  normal to feel anxious. We help calm them and offer support therapies. 

“Perhaps they want to talk about side effects and may open up in phone conversation, they can call at any time, we’re here to support them.” 

Helen also says that as she gets to know people then sees them when they are at the Centre for therapy she can have a chat and if necessary suggest a follow-up session. 

“People also email me. I was going to call someone today but he emailed me yesterday with a result. It was great, he is already following up naturally.” 

If ever there’s a question Helen doesn’t know the answer to, she says there is always support among the clinical nurse team and the wider cancer community. “If I don’t know the answer I will find out.” 

And, as is the case with every Bloomhill staff member, volunteer and client I have talked to, she loves the atmosphere at Bloomhill. 

“The environment is wonderful. I’ve come from central London to taking photos of wallabies in garden. It’s a wonderful place to come to, very calming and nurturing. I love it when a client says after their initial consultation that they’re going to stay for lunch. I know they feel comfortable.” 

Helen and her family moved to the Sunshine Coast just three weeks after their Covid quarantine, following time in Brisbane with her in-laws. 

An “outdoorsy” family they are loving the Coast. “We were out all day yesterday, we biked around Cotton Tree and the kids were in water playing with other kids. We got home at sunset. My hubby said ‘it feels like we’re on holiday’, and my son said ‘every day feels like a holiday’. 

“We just need to get family to visit and that would be perfect. My sister has booked time off work for next year.” 

Let’s hope for Helen and her family, and all the other families affected by Covid, that she gets her wish. 

To book a session with a clinical nurse phone Bloomhill reception on 54455794.