Moree has a new nurse in town and she is ready with an empathetic ear and supportive word for those diagnosed with breast cancer.
Sally Laurie started her role in mid-August with the McGrath Foundation, and is based at Moree Community Health, serving Wee Waa, Narrabri, Bingara, Warialda, Boggabri and Mungindi.
She will be helping women and men with breast cancer and their families navigate the often confusing health system, explaining to them what happens after diagnosis while also providing psycho-social support.
"First of all, it is an absolute privilege to be welcomed into their home to support them," Sally said.
"People are often teary, confused, they can be quite anxious about the process and what's happening and what will happen to them.
"So, it's a matter of making them feel at ease or that I am there to help them through this situation."
Sally knows the region well. She grew up in Tamworth and has lived in Moree for the past eight years, doing a nine-month stint in the role in 2015. She has a background in palliative care and surgical oncology.
She said it is incredibly important to her that every person in her district has access to a breast care nurse without having to travel long distances to see one.
"I have grown up in North West NSW my entire life. I know exactly where they live and the nearest facilities," Sally said.
"I know how far it is or how long it will take to drive to them."
And the best thing for Sally is seeing the look of relief on her patient's faces when she meets them for the first time, knowing there is someone locally to help and support them every step of the way.
About 57 people are diagnosed with the often life-threatening disease every day in Australia, with an expectation that 20,000 will receive the devastating news in 2022.
People are urged to get regular mammograms and screenings, as one in seven women and one in 200 men are expected to undergo treatment in their lifetime for Australia's second deadliest cancer, after lung cancer.
The McGrath Foundation has about 185 Breast Care Nurses providing the free service to people in communities around Australia. They have the goal of funding 250 nurses by 2025.
McGrath Foundation Director Tracy Bevan said the team is thrilled to welcome Sally to the network.
"The local communities in the area are incredible supporters of the McGrath Foundation," Tracy said.
"But with one in five people expected to miss out on the care of a breast care nurse this year, we have a big job to do in placing more nurses like Sally in communities around Australia, as we work towards our mission of ensuring no one goes without care."
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