Oncology Central

Nursing young people with cancer: an interview with Sue Morgan MBE

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You are a founding member of the Teenagers and Young Adults with Cancer (TYAC) organisation. Could you give us a brief overview of the organisation?

TYAC is a registered charity and the UK’s only membership body open to all professionals who are involved in the care of teenagers and young adults with cancer. The group provides education on best practice, shares new developments and distributes the latest resources; it aims to train and support its members to provide the very best care possible.  It also aims to improve the quality of life and likelihood of survival for young people with cancer.

You were one of the first teenage and young adult nurse specialists in the country and have previously co-authored a paper: Nursing young people with cancer: What is “different” about it? Could you tell us about any differing considerations that should be taken into account when treating AYA cancer patients compared to adult cancer patients?

Young people are at a time of life when their bodies are changing, they are learning how to manage their place in the world, moving from dependence on parents/carers to independent living and are in the midst of their education.  They are also conscious of how they look, how to fit in with their friends. They are exploring relationships and starting to look to the future.  It is a time of real flux, and if you add a cancer diagnosis, with all the uncertainty that it brings, their needs become complex and require expertise to care for them.

AYA cancer care is about working with young people, with all of the above considerations, and guiding them through each hurdle.  AYA nurses should be mindful that this population need care delivered by experts who are equipped with the skills to effectively communicate with them.  We also have to consider and care for the family, parents, friends and carers, as a diagnosis affects the whole family.

You are a co-author on the paper: Teenagers and young adults with cancer in Europe: from national programmes to a European integrated coordinated project. How does the level of care differ across Europe for AYA cancer patients?

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