Our armed forces Clinical Nurse Specialist, Helen Wilkes, was recently filmed for a feature which was shown on Forces TV, the television station specifically for those in the armed forces.
The British Forces Broadcasting Services approached Mesothelioma UK about featuring Helen, her work and one of her patients, to highlight the help available for veterans and military personnel with mesothelioma. Helen became the first Mesothelioma Clinical Nurse Specialist to focus specifically on helping serving personnel and veterans last year, when Mesothelioma UK received funding support from asbestos disease support charity, HASAG.
One of Helen’s patients and RAF pilot veteran, Mr John Myers, kindly agreed to take part in the filming to tell his story and make others aware of the help and support our “Supporting our Armed Forces” service can provide.
Mr Myers recalls the moment he was diagnosed, “Basically they say ‘you’ve got this disease, it is terminal, we can’t cure it but we can manage it’. You just think ‘ah, wait a minute. That’s it, that’s the
end’. But it isn’t, you can go on and people are there to help you do it.”
“Helen understands the family affair of the forces and that’s a big help. At the moment, I’m in the very early stages but I suppose as times goes on, things are going to get sticky and that’s when I’m going to need the information to make my own decision about what I do next and that will be based on what Helen and other nurses tell me.”
As part of the Supporting our Armed Forces project, Helen provides clinical support and information on treatment options and the latest clinical trials. Helen also works with a specialist armed forces benefits advisor from HASAG.
Helen commented: “I often find that people, once they’ve left the armed forces family, if you like, they often get away from all the support that there is and they’re not quite sure what there is. The Armed Forces project shows them that there is support out there and so we can signpost them in the right way. When anyone’s diagnosed with a cancer, especially mesothelioma, which is incurable, all the patient can remember is the word ‘cancer’. That’s why I’m there to empower them and give them the right support, advice and information.”
You can read more about John’s story here.
Visit our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how our Supporting our Armed Forces project could help you.