McGrath Nurse Nerridah Prentice living the dream six months in

How's that: Tamworth's McGrath Nurse Nerridah Prentice is loving all the lives she touches six months into her "dream role" at the Cancer Centre. Photo: Peter Hardin

How's that: Tamworth's McGrath Nurse Nerridah Prentice is loving all the lives she touches six months into her "dream role" at the Cancer Centre. Photo: Peter Hardin

Early last year, The Leader  joined forces with the local community in a unique campaign to win the services of a McGrath Breast Care Nurse in Tamworth. Now, six months on, we caught up with the local nurse, Nerridah Prentice, who was awarded the role and she couldn’t be happier in her “dream job.”

As the Sydney Cricket Ground celebrated a tenth Jane McGrath Day, Nerridah Prentice will celebrate six months in the job as Tamworth’s first McGrath Breast Care Nurse.

The former chemotherapy nurse was given the role following a unique community backed campaign early last year.

At the time she said it was her “dream job”, and half a year later that sentiment remains the same after coming to terms with the enormity of the role in the first few months.

“It has been amazing and is still my dream job – I love it,” Mrs Prentice said.

“When I first started I went out like a bull at a gate and wanted to visit every woman in the region with breast cancer, but I don’t think it was understood just how many women there are with breast cancer – I was a bit overwhelmed initially.”

“There was a real need to fill this role.” 

Mrs Prentice needed to implement a system, and did just that, enabling the Breast Screen Unit, surgeons, and the pre-admission clinic to systematically refer women to her, as well as continuing to allow women to self-refer.

“There was a real need to fill this role, and essentially I am just a support person, talking, listening, and just being there,” she said.

“Sometimes I don’t think I am doing that much but the thanks I get from families has just been amazing.” 

The campaign to win a nurse:

Mrs Prentice was trained and ready for the highs and lows of such a role, although said the counselling aspect of the role was more than she expected, and initially proved “very tough.” 

“I didn’t expect to be doing so much listening and helping women with emotions, I am not strictly trained for that, although I can always refer them on if necessary. It was tough to begin with, but in the end I am a shoulder to lean on.” 

On the other side of that equation has been the countless success stories.

“The most rewarding part is seeing the women, and their families, leaving at the end of their treatment and just knowing that I have helped.” 

While it might seem like a long shot just six months in, the busy nurse would love to see another McGrath Foundation edition in Tamworth in the near future.

“It would be great to see a McGrath Metastatic Nurse here in the future for the women that have had the cancer spread and are terminal,” Mrs Prentice said.

“Those ladies need more time – it would be great to be able to offer them that service.” 

As Bendemeer’s favourite son, Josh Hazlewood, marks his run-in on Saturday, the McGrath Foundation hopes to raise $1.3 million, which they hope will see ten more McGrath Nurses in roles around the country.

“They have got the goal posts set high but I think they can achieve it - the whole of Australia is behind them.”