Oncology nurse Ali Clarke came to our Maggie’s Centre because she believed she could offer more help and support to people going through cancer and their families.
And the cancer support specialist, who took up the post in August, says she has been delighted with the reception she has had since she joined a “dynamic team” at Maggie’s Fife.
For the last 13 years, Ali (41) has worked in oncology at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, in the haematology and chemotherapy units, and laterally as a palliative care pain nurse specialist.
“I have always known that people in my care needed more support than the hospital environment was able to offer.
“During my time at the Western, I was always encouraging people to go along to the Maggie’s Centre in Edinburgh where they had lots of time to offer them the practical and psychological support they needed on top of their medical treatment,” said Ali, who is originally from Glasgow, but has lived in Edinburgh for the past 20 years.
“My dad had cancer, and my mum and I nursed him for four years of a horrible and prolonged illness, and I have always loved the help that Maggie’s can offer to both the people with cancer and their families.
“I used to take the patients to Maggie’s on a regular basis knowing that they would be well looked after.”
Ali explained that when the Fife job came up she felt “compelled” to take it.
“It offers a service that simply can’t be offered in a hospital setting.”
On a day-to-day basis she sees people coming into Maggie’s through the drop-in service, helping them to fully understand a diagnosis and what to expect from their treatment.
She also helps run some of the support groups, including the ‘Where Now’ one for people who have finished their treatment and are living beyond it and getting back to a new normality.
“It is mostly about offering practical advice and support for what they are going through, from just being newly diagnosed through to those with a terminal diagnosis.”
Despite working in the acute high dependency sector for 10 years, she always knew she wanted to work with cancer patients.
“When I first qualified I worked in a vascular ward and a lot of the patients were there for palliative care.
‘‘I always felt a special bond with them, so when the opportunity arose, I took it,” she said.
“In the hospital environment you are restricted for time, whereas at Maggie’s you have more time to spend with people who need it.
“Coming to Maggie’s was the next step for me. I feel privileged to meet great people every day and be able to help them on their cancer journey. ‘‘