“Helping people isn’t just physical health, it’s also their mental, spiritual and psychological health too. It’s really valuable to look at someone holistically and hear what their needs are, and that of their whole whānau.”
Leona Spence joins the Cancer Society team as a supportive care nurse in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. A Bay of Plenty girl herself, she brings 22 years experience to the region she loves to call home.
“I originally started in hospital then realised I had a passion for working in the community. I have done various roles in public health before settling into general practice nursing.
“I’ve worked with people with cancer and seen some of the challenges they face. The structure of how things fit can sometimes be quite confusing for people so I’ help them understand where to go and what to do.”
When Leona was 10, her father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma at the age of 37. This was a difficult period for her family, so whānau support is now a particular focus for her.
“Growing up in a household with a parent that has cancer defintely opens your eyes to how it impacts not only the patient, but the whole whānau. It also affects how children are spoken to and engaged with. It’s a really scary time for families.”
After such a busy and varied career, Leona is now looking forward to having the time to get to know our clients.
“I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to walk alongside people and hear what their needs are and how you I can help them to make them feel a little bit better.
“The fact you have the time to really hear what people need and facilitate the best pathway for them is quite an opportunity. It’s an honour to be in a position to be able to do that and so far I’m really cherishing the value of time with people because it means I’m getting to know them, not the condition they’re coming in with.
“Cancer Society is an amazing organisation, providing such amazing opportunities for people and I’m very thankful for giving me this opportunity to work in the Eastern Bay.”
Welcome to the team Leona!
The fact you have the time to really hear what people need and facilitate the best pathway for them is quite an opportunity. It’s an honour to be in a position to be able to do thatLeona Spence, Supportive care nurse