My Experiences towards Cancer Nursing in Papua New Guinea

Submitted by Peter Fore RNO

Cancer is one of the top 10 diseases in Papua New Guinea. Most of the people in PNG don’t have much knowledge about cancer even today in various societies. Due to cultural beliefs and traditional norms people dying of cancer are taught to be dying because of curse or some forms of sorceries. My grandmother was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015. This was the time I was still in college. She passed away after a year. This has driven me to choose cancer nursing as my career part way.

I started my employment with Port Moresby General Hospital in 2018. I was attached to obstetrics and gynaecology department. For two years I provide nursing care to gynae mothers. I spent most of my working hours providing palliative care and counselling to patients with advanced cancers and those with poor prognosis. During that time, I had little knowledge about cancer. Seeing mothers dying of cancer is one of the painful feelings I usually had and sometimes share tears with the family members and love ones. While working in the gynae ward, I found out that most of my colleagues ignore dealing with chemotherapy. They are always afraid of the handling the cytotoxic drugs and the patient’s receiving chemotherapy. Without any doubt, I volunteered to assist my gynae doctors in administering chemotherapy for my patients. Most nurses criticized me, but down in my heart I used to say “if Cancer nursing is my call, I will not give up and I will not be affected with any of the cytotoxic effects”.

Until last year our hospital has decided to have a cancer centre of its own. Following my interest in cancer nursing I was transferred to the cancer clinic. Working in the cancer clinic has given me many experiences in cancer and its management. I learn new knowledge from the nurse unit manager, my colleagues and the doctors about chemotherapy. I also learn many things from the in-service meetings regarding radiation therapy which helps me to fully understand what cancer is from diagnosis to the management part of it.

Mr. Peter Fore

I also personally would like to thank the ISNCC to offer me the scholarship to attend ICCN 2022. I really enjoyed the program and this was my first time to expose myself to the outside world. The presentation from international nurses through ICCN 2022 has enabled me to fully understand cancer nursing at a larger scale. Furthermore, with the help of the newly built cancer centre in Port Moresby General Hospital, it will help lower the cancer burden in the country as there is greater hope for the people in Papua New Guinea in treatment of cancer through Radiation Therapy.