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Nurse Michelle to support Coromandel

“Nursing is a busy profession but this role allows you to spend time with clients and their families so you see their story from beginning to the end.”

Michelle Dellabarca hasn’t always worked in healthcare. Our new supportive care nurse for Thames and Coromandel has had quite a journey to get here! The former management professional with a degree in marketing and economics switched to a career in healthcare after a former boss asked her where her heart truly lay.

“I said I’ve always wanted to work in the medical field and he said ‘Go and do it and I’ll support you’. So I ended up working in the ambulance service for five or six years. Then I got breast cancer. I had a couple of years going through treatment, but I came out the other end. Then I did my nursing degree.”

Michelle was an emergency department nurse and then a nurse in a GP clinic when her mum was diagnosed with cancer.

“The last year was really hard nursing my Mum. I didn’t realise how hard it would be. She passed away in January and then in February I saw this role with Cancer Society. I just thought ‘oh, I know both sides of this. I’ve had cancer. I know what its like to be told those words.  And I’ve cared for someone with cancer, and I’m a nurse.’

“Having nursed my mum, I know sometimes medical teams don’t have time to focus on the family, but supporting the family is so important.

“I remember having so many questions and I wanted to talk about feelings, and my Mum needed someone to talk to that wasn’t me. That’s why it’s called supportive care. It’s not just about the mind and body, it’s about having the time to look at the whole person.”

A keen tramper, Michelle is fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful corners of our region, but it can also be incredibly isolated. That’s why she’s keen to settle into her new role and get out into the more far-flung areas of the Coromandel to support people with cancer no matter where they are.

“I’ve had a vast range of experience over the years and I’m really looking forward to a position where I can use all my skills. I’m really excited to be doing this.”

About supportive care services

Cancer Society supportive care services are free for people with cancer and their whānau, and a referral is not necessary. People needing support can contact Cancer Society on 0800 22 77 44. 

That’s why it’s called supportive care. It’s not just about the mind and and body, it’s about having the time to look at the whole person

Michelle Dellabarca, Supportive care nurse