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Cancer survivor tells conference about 'extraordinary' nurses

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A breast cancer survivor has told an audience of leading community nurses that the nursing staff who cared for her while she was being treated for the condition were key to her “sanity and stability”.

Yael Mindel paid tribute to the nurses and healthcare assistants who looked after her throughout 18 months of treatment including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone injections and a mastectomy, during an unscheduled speech at the Queen’s Nursing Institute’s annual conference last week.  

“I could not have got through it without the nurses”

Yael Mindel 

The 48-year-old, from London, was inspired to attend and share her experiences by QNI fellow Ann Keen and author Suzanne Gordon, having met them the night before at an event celebrating 100 years of suffrage.

Ms Gordon, an American author and journalist who writes about healthcare with a particular interest in nursing, unexpectedly introduced Ms Mindel during her keynote speech.

Addressing delegates, Ms Mindel said women needed to support each other to effect the next 100 years of change and progression.

She said: “I [have] just finished 18 months of cancer treatment and I had to express how the nursing teams were the key to my sanity and my stability, and the healthcare assistants, and my friends that were there making me chicken soup and taking me for walks in the park.

“It was nurses who knew when I was feeling down, how my family were, how my children were… I could not have got through it without them,” she told the conference for community nurses.

Ms Mindel praised nursing as an “extraordinary profession”, stating: “You see every bit of society come through your doors every single day, I don’t know how you have the tools to cope with that but somehow you do.”

Meanwhile, Ms Gordon went on to talk about the importance of nurses telling their stories and explaining the vital role they play in the health service. 

Queen’s Nursing Institute

Suzanne Gordon

Source: Kate Stanworth

Suzanne Gordon

Every hand in the room went up when Ms Gordon asked delegates how many believed the public trusted nurses. The opposite happened when she asked how many believed the public understood what nurses did.

She added: “You need to tell them. It’s not enough that you are in a noble, caring profession, people have to know what it means and what you do.”

The theme of the QNI community nursing conference, held on Monday and Tuesday last week at the Royal College of GPs in London, was “from silence to voice” – encouraging nurses to “articulate their value”.

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