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Red letter day for Flying Doctor nurse

Thursday, 1st December, 2011

RIGHT ROYAL OCCASION: Jo Beven’s first day as the RFDS’ new breast care nurse had her meeting Crown Princess Mary. RIGHT ROYAL OCCASION: Jo Beven’s first day as the RFDS’ new breast care nurse had her meeting Crown Princess Mary.

Jo Beven’s first day at work at the Flying Doctor Base was one she will never forget.

Not long after starting her job the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s new Far West breast care nurse was introduced to Crown Princess Mary of Denmark before the full glare of the national and international media.

Princess Mary said she was “very honoured and very touched” to meet Jo.

“It’s a very unusual way to start a new job,” said Jo. “It’s something I’m sure I’ll remember forever.” 

Jo said she wasn’t nervous but if Mary had started a conversation then that would have changed.

Her job was funded by the McGrath Foundation and Jo will be holding clinics at the base and on regular runs that take in 18 remote towns in NSW, northern SA and south western Queensland.

Jo started working in health in 1986 as a Registered Nurse at the Broken Hill hospital.

She moved into oncology in 2000 and has spent the past 11 and a half years caring for women with cancer.

When she saw the RFDS advertisement for a breast care nurse Jo decided to apply.

“I had studied breast care and it was an area I was interested in doing more work in, and as RFDS are a big part of the health care scene in Broken Hill I was very familiar with their work.”

Jo said she had personal experience of the RFDS’ professional care.

“When I was expecting my first son I developed some complications and was taken in to Broken Hill. I required some specialist treatment the RFDS kindly helped.

“My mother-in-law is a member of the Broken Hill Women’s Auxiliary that makes the legendary Christmas puddings to support the RFDS so I guess I’m just following family tradition by going to work for the RFDS.”

Jo said distance and fewer resouces can take a toll on cancer sufferers and she will be there to provide support.

“Only one in three health care professionals out here are women, so there are limited opportunities for local women,” she said.

“Also, those with cancer have to travel huge distances away from home if they can’t be treated in Broken Hill. With chemotherapy treatments happening once a fortnight in some cases a long drive is the last thing you need. The treatment and being away from home takes a huge physical and emotional toll.

“I will be there to support them through their treatment and give them the advice and information they need. Having someone to talk do does help and because of the tyranny of distance many women living in the outback have to be content to talk to their oncologist on the phone.”

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