My job

Caring for patients with mesothelioma

Nurse specialist Anne Moylan describes her complex but highly rewarding role
Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma nurse specialist Anne Moylan talks to Lynne Pearce about her complex but highly rewarding role caring for patients with this rare form of cancer.

A charity funded nursing post may be fulfilling, but is it a dead end for your career progression?

For lung cancer and mesothelioma nurse specialist Anne Moylan it has meant the opposite, with promotion to a band 8 nursing role, leading a team of specialist mesothelioma nurses based in the south of England.

Im delighted, says Ms Moylan, who is based at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. Often with band 8 roles you lose your clinical caseload, but thats not so with this job.

The story began back in January 2014, when her trust was awarded funding from the charity

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Mesothelioma nurse specialist Anne Moylan talks to Lynne Pearce about her complex but highly rewarding role caring for patients with this rare form of cancer. 

A charity funded nursing post may be fulfilling, but is it a dead end for your career progression? 

Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma diagnosis. Photo: Science Photo Library

For lung cancer and mesothelioma nurse specialist Anne Moylan it has meant the opposite, with promotion to a band 8 nursing role, leading a team of specialist mesothelioma nurses based in the south of England. 

‘I’m delighted,’ says Ms Moylan, who is based at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth. ‘Often with band 8 roles you lose your clinical caseload, but that’s not so with this job.’ 

The story began back in January 2014, when her trust was awarded funding from the charity Mesothelioma UK for a two-day a week specialist nursing post at band 7. 

Rare passion

Then a lung cancer specialist nurse with ten years’ experience, Ms Moylan helped write the trust’s successful application for the charity’s funding. ‘Mesothelioma had become my passion,’ she says. 

A rare form of cancer, almost all patients develop mesothelioma through occupational exposure to asbestos. ‘How unfair that is,’ says Ms Moylan. 

Looking after these patients is extremely complex, combining symptom control, psychological support and financial and legal issues, including the possibility of taking civil action against former employers. 

Of a caseload of around 350 patients, Ms Moylan’s nursing team sees around 40 people diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.

Focus on care delivery

The funding from Mesothelioma UK has enabled her to focus on delivering care to this small group. 

‘I can be there at all the parts of the patient’s journey,’ she says. ‘I can get to know them and their family, helping them achieve what they want to do when they are unwell.’  

Over 15 hours each week, she sees around 14 patients in clinic, ranging from newly diagnosed to nearing the end of life. 

Her role can include accompanying someone to their oncologist appointment, visiting the treatment unit, or checking on the progress of those admitted. ‘It means I’m often in different places at different times,’ explains Ms Moylan. 

Regionally, she is responsible for providing information to other healthcare professionals on the latest trials and treatments, while nationally she supports those who contact the charity’s helpline.

Skills gained

She says the post has improved her skills immeasurably. ‘I feel much more confident in my conversations with patients and I appreciate the time I’m able to spend with them, without the pressure to be somewhere else,’ she says.

‘And my knowledge has increased massively. Our network is phenomenal and we all share information and help each other.’ 

Her new full-time role begins this autumn, with funding provided by both Mesothelioma UK and local charity Hampshire Asbestos Support and Awareness Group (HASAG). 

‘I’ll be mentoring and supporting our new and existing specialist nurses,’ says Ms Moylan. ‘It’s a fantastic opportunity and I cannot wait.’ 

Lynne Pearce is a freelance health writer 

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