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Meet the Blood Cancer Taskforce: Carmel O’Kane

Carmel O'Kane, Cancer Nurse Practitioner and Manager of the Wimmera Cancer Centre and the Vice President & Director Professional Practice for the Cancer Nurses Society of Australia.

The Blood Cancer Taskforce is well on its way to developing Australia’s first National Strategic Action Plan for Blood Cancer. We ask some of the Taskforce members what drives their passion for blood cancer.

Why did you want to be part of the Taskforce?

I was identified because of my work with the Cancer Nurses Society of Australia (CNSA). However, my passion to improve equity of care for rural and regional Australians is the reason I want to participate.

What led to you become a part of the blood cancer community?

I’ve been a cancer nurse (for both solid tumours and blood cancers) for 24 years – with the last eight years working in rural and regional Australia. Improving every person’s experience with cancer is very important to me.

What drives your passion to help people with blood cancer?

I see every day how much a cancer diagnosis affects people. And I can see ways that each experience can be improved, many of which are simple things.

I know that we can improve things – that’s what I’m passionate about. In particular, the rural divide is so very frustrating. Being able to be heard at a high level will help to reduce that frustration.

How do you think the Taskforce might improve the lives of people with a blood cancer?

Providing great quality advice to a high level of government will ensure that the ‘on the ground’ clinicians will be better able to make the changes they know are needed to improve the care and experience of these patients.

What is your key piece of advice for someone living with a blood cancer?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Contact your local people – whether it’s your GP, a local cancer centre or community centre. There is a lot of help out there, but they won’t know about you unless you tell them!

The Leukaemia Foundation is always there to provide support to people living with a blood cancer – just call 1800 620 420 and ask to speak with your local Blood Cancer Support Coordinator.

Carmel is a Cancer Nurse Practitioner and Manager of the Wimmera Cancer Centre and the Vice President & Director Professional Practice for the Cancer Nurses Society of Australia.