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4th March 2024

Maintaining connection for cancer patients

Lorna Treacey 2 (1)

Breast cancer patients are now feeling more connected and less alone in their journey, particularly those living rurally, thanks to thanks to a project proudly funded by Australian Breast Cancer Research, called CAN Connect!

CAN Connect is a virtual nursing service helping cancer patients have greater access to a specialised care nurse, virtually. This service is ideal for those who don’t always want to go into hospital for appointments.

We’re excited to share the impact that CAN Connect is already having on breast cancer patients!

CAN Connect nurse consultant Sam Kourakis said that CAN Connect is helping patients feel empowered through educating them on their diagnosis and on their symptoms post-chemotherapy.

“The focus for CAN Connect is prevention so being able to reach patients virtually enables prompt communication and symptom awareness – affording us the opportunity to instigate care in a timely fashion potentially reducing further deterioration,” Ms Kourakis said.

“Patients are receptive to the additional education and phone support that CAN Connect offers. Others who are on their own welcome the opportunity to talk to someone around how they are feeling and their symptoms and feel reassured when talking to us.”

Patients are contacted four to seven days post treatment rather than after one day which is better for patients who may experience symptoms after treatment.

“Calling patients day-1 post treatment is too soon so delaying the call a few days and asking a series of triage questions allows us to develop a comprehensive picture of the patient’s health and identify symptoms that need extra care,” Ms Kourakis said.

The team has already seen an invaluable results, including:

  • Patient empowerment which this is mainly achieved through education and normalising symptoms during the recovery phase post-chemotherapy
  • Decreased unplanned hospital presentations into the Cancer Rapid Assessment Clinic and the emergency department, through initiating strategies that enable patients to manage side effects in their own home
  • Improved overall patient satisfaction in their ability to self-manage post-treatment
  • Patient follow up to track further deterioration for escalation or to track improvements.

The CAN Connect team has helped many cancer patients across metro South Australia and rurally, including Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Port Pirie, Ceduna, Mount Gambier, Victor Harbor and Hawker.

This includes women like Lorna (pictured) who had to travel from Whyalla to Adelaide – a 9 hour round trip – for treatments and consultations for her breast cancer.

The team has exciting future plans including supporting rural staff in healthcare facilities and clinics who are caring for patients and streamlining the communication for cancer patients.

“Our future plans are exciting; we are hoping CAN Connect will evolve into a Cancer symptom and urgent review clinic model, where proactive telecalls are made to patients designed to detect patient deterioration, that can instigate appropriate clinical care and interventions.”

CAN Connect has been made possible thanks to the support of our generous donors. To make a donation, please visit our donate page.