Amy Nolan is an advanced nurse practitioner looking after the paediatric oncology patients at St George’s Hospital on Pinckney ward and PICU.

Amy shares why it’s important to raise awareness of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. She’s proud to be part of the paediatric oncology team who all work together to help support children and their families through their cancer journey and beyond.

How long have you worked at St George’s Hospital?

I have worked at St. George’s for 11 years in total. Prior to my current job role, I worked on Pinckney ward as a staff nurse and then spent 5 years working on PICU.

I have now been working as an advanced nurse practitioner in paediatric oncology for 5 years and have completed my ANP training.

Tell me about your team and what you do to help children with cancer?

My team is comprised of three full-time advanced nurse practitioners, we work long day shifts and cover the paediatric oncology service between 08:30-21:00, 7 days a week. We are clinically based, our role being a hybrid of a nurse and a doctor- attending ward, physically assessing patients, prescribing medications, and arranging for investigations. We work with a senior Oncology doctor and an attending Paediatric Oncology Consultant from the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Our role is to care for acute oncology inpatient admissions which means we see a mix of children who are either newly diagnosed and require diagnostic investigations, discussions around their diagnosis and who need to commence their treatment, and those patients who are already on treatment and need specialist input from our team to manage acute health conditions that can occur whilst receiving treatment for cancer.

We often work alongside other paediatric specialist teams such as paediatric infectious diseases, PICU, paediatric respiratory, paediatric neurology who can advise and support our team on caring for our patients to the highest standard. We have a particularly close working relationship with the paediatric surgical team who we rely on for surgical input for our patients.

Why is children’s cancer awareness month important to you and your team?

This month is so special to my team and I as it sheds light on our small population of patients amongst the wider Trust. Children’s cancer may be considered rare, the fact is, we see and treat a large population of paediatric and teenage cancer patients here at St. George’s hospital. We have a wonderful caseload of patients and families, who all deserve recognition for the journeys they endure whilst undergoing treatment for cancer.

As well as our patients, we have a dedicated and highly skilled paediatric oncology team, which I am lucky to be part of, who work so hard to ensure these children and their loved ones get the best treatment and support they rightly deserve!

Our patients sometimes require long hospital admissions which can be emotionally and physically difficult as we look after children from south London, Surrey, Sussex and Kent. We rely on charity support from agencies such as Clic Sargent and Momentum to give our families support during long stays away from home, their other family members, school and friends.

There is still a lot of work to do in improving treatment and outcomes for childhood cancer and this area needs all the attention possible to raise awareness and for fundraising for research and service improvements.

What do you enjoy most about working within our children’s cancer team?

Honestly, being able to work alongside children & families undergoing treatment for cancer feels like the most worthwhile thing I could ever do. It’s certainly not easy, and I often wish there was more we could do, but every day I come to work with a strong sense of purpose, to make a difference. I feel super privileged to have met some amazing children and young people during my years working in this role. They are the future, and we must do our best to look after them and give them a life after cancer.