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New frontier for Mereana

New frontier for Mereana

The Cancer Society’s iconic emblem has always had special significance for our Eastern Bay of Plenty supportive care nurse Mereana Waaka-Murch (Tainui Ngāti Mahanga, Te Arawa Ngāti Pikiao).

The Cancer Society’s iconic emblem has always had special significance for our Eastern Bay of Plenty supportive care nurse Mereana Waaka-Murch (Tainui Ngāti Mahanga, Te Arawa Ngāti Pikiao).

“The daffodil has always been one of my favourite flowers. It’s so resilient. It has to be, to survive all sorts of temperatures underground through the cold winter and then flower again in spring.”

Although based in Whakatāne, Mereana’s role takes her across the eastern bay region. From Otamarakau in the west, around to Waihau Bay in the east and inland towards Murupara and Minginui.

The region hosts some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery. But it’s also home to some remote communities.

Being able to “bridge the gap” and take cancer care into those communities is one of the things that motivates Mereana in her role.

“What excites me is the opportunity to provide a package of care in a positive manner for people with cancer to improve their quality of life.”

For some people that may be meals during treatment when it can be hard to get good food on the table. It can mean access to massage to support recovery. Or it may include counselling for them or a loved one who is struggling with the psychological impact of cancer.

“Every person with cancer I meet has different needs.”

The Cancer Society calls it psychosocial support. But Mereana likens it to a korowai – a protective cloak that offers wrap-around care.

“It’s not just about cancer. There are always lots of things happening around their medical condition – just everyday life.”

Connecting whānau with other support services available in the region is another important aspect of Mereana’s role. And she also encourages people with cancer to reach out and find mutual support from others at monthly groups she holds in Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki, Kawerau and Te Kaha.

“Support groups are really vital in terms of providing opportunities for people to meet others. People who share their stories often find it really helpful, just knowing they aren’t alone.”

But it’s the one-on-one support from a Cancer Society nurse that many people find incredibly beneficial.

“I get to spend time with people - quality time - to sit with them, talk through their concerns, answer questions and just listen. How often is there an opportunity for that in this day and age when everyone’s busy?”

To contact a supportive care nurse near you, call 0800 CANCER (226 237).

What excites me is the opportunity to provide a package of care in a positive manner for people with cancer to improve their quality of life.

Mereana Waaka-Murch