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Being a neuro-oncology nurse – Guest Post by Ingela Oberg

In this guest post, Ingela Oberg, an adult neuro-oncology nurse manager at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, explains why she went into medicine and what her role entails.

Ingela Oberg

As the NHS marks its 75th anniversary, we’d like to pay tribute to all of the health and social care workers who go the extra mile to help people affected by brain tumours, and support our aims to enable them to live longer, better lives.

Ingela is just one example of this incredible group of people. Here, she tells her NHS story.

I came to the UK in 1997, fresh from nursing school, with the intention of staying for three years or so to get the necessary experience to move back ‘home’ to Dubai where I grew up and work there as a nurse. But I never left either Addenbrookes or England! I now have a long term partner and two boys, so the UK is definitely my forever home.

I became a nurse because of personal experience – as with so many of us. I lost my younger brother to a malignant brain tumour in 1989 and so I know the despair and pain felt by many families and can relate on a personal level.

My mum always said that if they had had access to specialist nurses when they were going through their turmoil with my brother, it would have made their lives and journeys so much easier as they would’ve had a constant level of support and someone to ask questions/to seek advice from and help them prepare for the inevitable. That has always stuck with me and I try to make patients and their family’s journey’s as seamless as possible.

My Dad’s cousin was also a ward manager at a hospital in Stockholm, Sweden and she was my inspiration growing up – I always got summer jobs on her wards as a health care assistant in my teens so learned the backbone to nursing procedures through her.

It was a steep learning curve! I had lived abroad all of my life (mainly in Bahrain and Dubai, followed by Sweden) so language was not a barrier as I’d attended American and British schools throughout.

I have held my post as lead neuro-oncology nurse since 2009 and have recently been appointed as nurse consultant within the same speciality. I have always worked at CUH but in various divisions, roles and departments. It truly is my home from home!

I manage a team of specialist nurses and they are amazing in what they achieve and do daily – they are a real inspiration.

In neurosurgery we have a relatively quick turnaround of patients whom we subsequently hand over to oncology services here at CUH, Ipswich or Norwich depending on their surgical diagnosis. Our services deal mainly with malignant, high grade brain tumours. I run nurse led clinics and regularly break bad news to patients/relatives in clinic which can be difficult as malignant brain tumours have a very limited prognosis.

But as a lead nurse, and now nurse consultant I am very privileged to also work nationally with UK wide benchmarking services and institutes like NICE and charities like Macmillan and brain tumour specific charities to help improve services, streamline care and ensure equitable access to services for malignant brain tumours. I also work very closely with my counterparts in Ipswich and Norwich to ensure a seamless transition and continuity of care.

I manage a team of specialist nurses and they are amazing in what they achieve and do daily – they are a real inspiration. But also my colleagues specific to neuro-oncology – consultants and all; we are a very cohesive team who look out for each other.

We are one of the most active research units in the UK and we were one of the first neuro-oncology centres in the UK to gain status as a Brain Cancer Virtual Institute through Cancer Research UK. I could not be prouder to work for Cambridge University Hospitals and neuro-oncology specifically.

Wish the NHS a happy birthday

If you’ve been supported by a health or social care team throughout your brain tumour journey, why not show them and the NHS some love on July 5th? Follow and join the conversation on social media by using #NHSBirthday.