‘Why caregivers must tell cancer patients the truth’
Speaking during the Second Annual LCC Nursing Conference in Lagos, Uchenna advised nurses against underestimating the power of God in performing miracles on cancer patients, just as she wants them to be as humane as possible when presenting the facts.
Uchenna said: “From statistics, many nurses do not know much about cancer, so we are trying to empower our nurses with the right knowledge … Nurses are not to join those that bring patients’ morale down because our aim is to improve patient’s quality of life, even if it is palliative care for stage four cancer. We know at this point, survival chances are almost impossible, but we can limit the growth of the disease.”
On the misconception that some contraceptives or fertility care cause cancer, Uchenna said there is no direct link, but side effect of hormonal drugs can result in weight increase, which is part of the risk factors.
She, however, noted that one of the major fears of cancer treatment is reoccurrence, which is prone to happen within the first two years.
“Why cancer reoccurs in some survivors is because many of them relax after remission. Some fail to take their drugs or visit the hospital as scheduled due to economic or whatever reasons. It is safer to say a patient has cancer remission than saying the person is cancer free. This is because the disease may reoccur.
To avoid this, we employ breast cancer survivors to do mammogram often. They should complete the treatment and more importantly, do radiotherapy six to eight weeks after the last treatment,” she added.
Uchenna said Lakeshore Cancer Centre (LCC) has been at the forefront of helping to bring down the burden in cancer treatment.
“LCC has been awarded the Best Cancer Centre in Nigeria because we are at the forefront. This is our first time that we are awarding credit point for the nurses’ training, so we are working with sponsors for next year to help in the end quality care.
“There is hope for cancer, but fund has remained a major challenge. Drugs are not cheap as most are imported. We speak with NGOs, support groups and celebrities to make the journey easy for cancer patients. We hope to get public hospitals more involved in our next training,” she added.
On her part, Policy and Protocol Nurse at the hospital, Cynthia Ikejiani, said palliative care is very important in cancer treatment.
According to her, “You don’t have to wait till the end. It begins from stage one and this is one of the things we are missing out in cancer treatment in Nigeria. When some patients are diagnosed, they run away and report when it’s late, that is at stage 4 and we give them the care they want.”
On the theme: “Holistic Nursing in Cancer Care: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Principal/Deputy Director, Nursing, School of Nursing, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Niyi Makinde said nurses remained integral to availing any patient complete care, which involves healing the mind, body and soul.
Makinde, who advised nurses to be customer-centric in healthcare delivery, said they were not to force information or decisions on patients.
He added that early diagnosis, prompt treatment, social support, and the hope of living were necessary for a cancer patient’s survival.
He identified inadequate manpower development, lack of training and retraining to uplift professional skills as reasons why there are few holistic nurses.
“Holistic nurses recognise the mental/emotional state of patients. This aspect of nursing should be enshrined in the curricula to boost the nation’s health care delivery. Nurses are good people and should be addressed that way. It is, however, not justifiable for a nurse on duty to be emotional. We also need to educate the society more on this issue,” he added.
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