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Hebrides News


South Uist nurse provides essential support to cancer patients  

22 May 2017

A Macmillan nurse from South Uist is providing essential support to cancer patients all over the UK – and even abroad.


Josie Buchan, originally from Garrynamonie in South Uist, works as a Macmillan Information Nurse Specialist on the charity’s helpline providing support to people affected by cancer over the phone.


She originally moved to the mainland to study nursing at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and ended up working in oncology at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre.


She moved to work on the Macmillan Support Line, which is based in the charity’s Glasgow office, eight years ago.


In a day, she can take between eight to 20 calls from people asking about everything from cancer treatment and its side effects to end-of-life issues.


“You never know what’s coming next,” says mum-of-one Josie, 43. “My job involves answering people's questions about their cancer and speaking to family members who are needing support as well.


“We get lots of different calls on the helpline, from people who have had a new diagnosis and are concerned about their treatment starting and the side effects of the treatment, to people who have got emotional issues and want to have a chat with us or who are going through end-of-life and want to find out what's going to happen with that.


“We get calls from all over the UK and sometimes from abroad as well.”


As well as Macmillan nurses, the support line is staffed by Welfare Rights and Financial Guidance teams who can advise people about benefits, Macmillan grants and personal finances.


“A call can be anything from five minutes to over an hour,” says Josie. “It's as long as the person on the other side of the phone wants to speak to us for. People tend to open up a wee bit more on the phone than they would face-to-face.


“Sometimes we can't always help them straight away because their question might be a wee bit complicated but we can do some research and call them back later.”


Although she says the job can be emotionally draining at times, she gets a lot of satisfaction from helping people.

“Sometimes after a call you might find you need to take a wee break. You can chat to your colleagues about any calls that you've had or go away and get yourself a cup of tea. I enjoy my job.


“I like to see the satisfaction from the end of the call when somebody says thank you. People come to us when they're quite distressed and it's nice to see they’ve calmed down and that we've been able to help them.”


As well as answering calls on the phone, the Macmillan Support Line team also answer questions that have come in on Facebook, Twitter or the online community.


You can call the Macmillan Support Line 0808 808 00 00 from Monday – Friday, 9am - 8pm.





Josie Buchan