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My CUH story: Cancer nurse specialist

An oncology specialist nurse at Addenbrooke’s has spoken of her love for her work – even though it involves following patients on some of the toughest journeys.

Jill Barker - CNS day - image
Jill Barker

In a moving account, Jill Barker says a big part of her job is providing psychological as well as practical support to patients and families, especially when they have been given a “hard diagnosis”.

Jill is one of a number of clinical nurse specialists (CNS’) who are today telling their personal career stories on this website, through video and print, to mark National Cancer CNS Day 2022.

The roles undertaken by Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS’) are many and varied, they treat and manage the health concerns of patients and work to promote health and wellbeing in the patients they care for.

She explains:

With my colleagues we look after patients with cancer of the liver, pancreas and biliary tract which can be very traumatic for both patients and their families. They have to come to terms with a hard diagnosis and go straight into treatment.

Jill Barker

“From there the patient might look at end of life care within a very short period, we act as the main link for patients and their treatment. We’re the glue that holds all the multi-disciplinary teams, the consultants, the doctors, and the treatment units together for the patients.

And she adds: “I think of psychological input as travelling with the patient and their family along their incredibly traumatic journey which is really humbling for us as CNS’ because we get to know the patients, be part of their family. We have to know a lot of personal things about them, and we see a lot of raw emotions.

“It's very insightful, it's hard but we're very lucky to do what we do.”

Follow this link to read the stories of more CNS who assist in cases of myeloma, urology and prostate and head and neck cancers.