Creating a home from home through cancer diagnosis and treatment


Clinical nurse specialist Valerie Miller’s care extends beyond her young patients to include their families

Jacqueline Cowan was enjoying university with her whole life ahead of her when she was diagnosed with cancer.

‘It was one of the scariest moments in my life, and my parents were equally terrified,’ she recalls. However, teenage and young adult clinical nurse specialist Valerie Miller was ‘an amazing source of support’ through those early days and the treatment that followed. 

She made Altnagelvin Area Hospital in Londonderry a home from home for Ms Cowan. When she learned that Ms Cowan loved gaming, she even found a way for her to have access to an Xbox video game console while in hospital.

Joyce Cowan, left, with her daughter Jacqueline Cowan and Ms Miller. Picture: Presseye

‘I can’t think of anyone more deserving’

‘I’m so grateful to have Valerie in my life,’ says Ms Cowan, who has nominated Ms Miller in the Patient’s Choice category of this year’s RCNi Nurse Awards.

‘Nothing was ever too much for her. She was there for my first chemo session and my last and many in between, has sat with me talking about everything and anything just to distract me from the treatment, has given advice and stayed at work late just to make me and my mum a cup of tea after a particularly hard day at the clinic.

Read about the rest of our Patient’s Choice finalists below, or click here to vote

‘She has found ways to make me laugh even when I wanted to cry, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award.’

‘I feel humbled’

Ms Miller, who works for Western Health and Social Care Trust, says: ‘I feel really humbled that Jacqueline nominated me after all that she has been through. I cried when I heard – I still can’t believe it. She is such a lovely, bubbly person and I have loved being able to support her.’

Voting opens on 1 May and closes at midnight on 14 June. The winner will be announced at the RCNi Nurse Awards ceremony in London on 3 July.


Elaine Cole is RCNi special projects editor

The Patient’s Choice award is supported by the Patients Association