What is the cancer care support line?

What is the cancer care support line?

We talked to Senior Cancer Care Nurse Simon to find out more about the AXA Health Dedicated Cancer Nurse helpline.

At Equipsme, we don’t cover cancer treatment. If diagnosis is part of your plan, we can help you get access to a consultant to get answers faster - and hopefully help get that diagnosis. But after that you return back to the NHS to start your treatment.

It means our plans can stay affordable, and provide private health back-up for more people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access it. But it doesn’t mean that we’re going to leave you all alone to deal with your cancer by yourself.

One of the ways that we continue to support you is through the AXA Health Dedicated Cancer Nurse helpline. It’s staffed by experienced cancer care nurses, available Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm, with healthcare professionals available out of hours 24 hours a day, 365 days a week. We talked to Senior Cancer Care Nurse Simon to find out more.

Hi Simon! What does the AXA Health Dedicated Cancer Nurse helpline do?

We take calls from cancer patients and their families, and help answer any questions and queries about their diagnosis, treatment options, side effects, anxieties and worries.

Who picks up the phone?

The team answering the phones are all medical professionals with experience of supporting people with cancer. Taking myself as an example, I’ve worked in oncology and intensive care for 40 years now, inside and outside the NHS, and I’ve been on the phones with AXA Health for a decade.

There’s no silly questions, nothing I haven’t heard before - and I’ve even been there myself. I got my own cancer diagnosis 8 years ago, so I know exactly what it’s like to hear those words, and go through that journey.

Why do people need the Dedicated Cancer Nurse helpline if they’ve got their own Drs and nurses?

The moment you hear that diagnosis, you stop hearing anything else. And with the best will in the world, consultants tend to speak a different language! Even if you think you’ve taken it all in, you might suddenly find yourself in the car park after your appointment with a burning question - or awake at night wondering what they meant by X or Y. That’s exactly the time to give us a ring.

We can explain things in simple terms, and we don’t have a time limit on our calls - unlike your consultant who is likely to be very busy. Some people just have a quick question and just want a couple of minutes on the phone, others need longer, and we can be talking for an hour or more.

What kind of things do people ask you about?

Some things are medical enquiries. So we can talk through all the terminology and what it means, explain all the options you’ve got, go through all the ins and outs and pros and cons, detail what’s involved in the treatment, what to expect at the hospital, and how to handle after-care or side-effects at home.

We’ll help people compile a list of questions to take into their next appointment, and we always encourage patients to write things down as much as possible. For others, we’re more of a general sounding board, a safe space to talk and to come to grips with what’s happening to them.

What other things do people talk about?

Cancer changes so much about your life. People worry about their relationships, about their families, about their jobs - about what’s going to happen next. We get a lot of calls from people who are worried about the financial aspects, because they’ve had to stop work for instance. There is help and support out there, and we direct people to the right places to find it. Just taking that off someone’s plate can be a huge relief.

How do we help?

Our job is to be there to listen, to explain things, to signpost to the right information and services, and to give people the confidence to get involved with their own care. When they pick up the phone to me or one of my colleagues they can be open, and honest, and blunt, and scared, and angry - and whatever it is they need to be. We know we’ve done it right if that person leaves the call feeling just a little bit better, a little bit more in control.

Can people call more than once?

There’s no limits on how often people can call us. And they can always ask to talk to the same person they’ve spoken to before. If that person isn’t available, they can ask for a call back, or talk to someone else if it’s urgent. We’re all qualified nurses, and we’re all here to help.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I became a nurse because I’ve always wanted to help people. I feel like I get the time and space to do that on the AXA Health Dedicated Cancer Nurse helpline. It’s always a wonderful feeling when someone ends a call and I know I’ve made a difference to them.

What’s the key piece of advice you’d like to share with cancer patients?

At the end of the day, it’s your body, your life and your choice. You don’t always have to do what the doctor says. It’s up to YOU what to do next.

Everyone is different, they have different priorities, their cancer is different - different types and stages - and their body reacts to treatment in different ways. Your journey will never be the same as someone else’s. And YOU are in charge of it.

The other piece of advice I’d give everyone is that knowledge is power – the more you know the better choices you can make. Just make sure you’re going to the right sources. Dr Google isn’t always helpful! You’re far better off giving us a call - that’s exactly what we’re here for.

How do I call the Dedicated Cancer Nurse helpline?

If you would like to speak to one of the dedicated cancer nurses at AXA Health, you can contact them on 0800 1114 811.


Date created: June 2024