New Service- Oncology Supportive Care

20 March 2024
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Supportive and Palliative Care are now well known to improve the quality of life for people living with cancer and other serious illnesses, as well as their family. Supportive care is available to all people diagnosed with cancer and is not at all about giving up hope. In fact, research has shown that people treated for cancer can have better outcomes with early involvement of supportive and palliative care in their treating team.  

Supportive care and palliative care are terms which describe a “whole person” approach to care. Supportive and palliative care specialists work as part of your treating cancer team, including your GP to help with a range of concerns that arise as part of having cancer and its treatment. 

Supportive care is not just the physical treatments – supportive care doctors are able to discuss and manage physical, emotional, social and spiritual concerns for you and your loved ones. This may also include help with better understanding illness and its treatments, help with decision making as well as future planning. The focus is on providing relief from symptoms and relief from the stress of complex decision making and uncertainty.  The goal of supportive care is to enable you to live your life comfortably whilst managing your illness experience.  

Dr Rachel Hughes is a supportive and palliative care specialist. Dr Hughes specialises in managing complex symptoms including pain, nausea, tiredness and breathlessness. She has an interest in putting the patient and their loved ones at the centre of their care and works with you to navigate the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis. Dr Hughes also sees patients with other serious (non-cancer) illnesses.  

Dr Hughes will work in partnership with your oncologists, GP and other specialists. She will ensure good communication with your treating teams and other services including community palliative care and allied health. She also provides consultations and inpatient care to patients at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Lismore.  

Dr Hughes has recently moved to the Northern Rivers with her husband, from Newcastle, where she was previously Director of Palliative Care at Calvary Mater Newcastle. Rachel is very happy to be a part of regional life again, where she feels much more at home. Rachel completed her specialist training with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians chapter of palliative medicine in 2014. For many years she has been involved in education of medical students, specialists in training and nursing and allied health staff, as well as research dedicated to improving the experience of people and their families facing serious illnesses.  

Dr Hughes will be consulting at Oncology North Coast on Mondays and Thursday. If you are interested in an appointment, contact your treating specialist or GP for a referral to Dr Rachel Hughes. Our friendly receptions staff are always able to assist you with further information on her medical service.