Voted by her colleagues, patients and their families, Sandie Jones scoops our inaugural award for her extraordinary 20-year career caring for men – from biopsies to post-treatment support groups. We spoke to her and one of her grateful patients, and explain why we're campaigning for more nurses like Sandie across the UK.
Sandie Jones (pictured above, centre), a prostate cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist from Wrexham Maelor Hospital, has been presented with our inaugural People’s Choice Award for her outstanding dedication to supporting men with prostate cancer over the last 20 years.
The new award – which includes a £1,500 bursary for training or service improvement in Sandie's local area – is nominated for by patients, colleagues, and family members of men living with the disease. It was announced at the British Association of Urological Nurses conference in Bournemouth yesterday.
"When you hear that you’ve got cancer, your whole world is turned upside down in an instant," says Frank Maddocks, who was cared for by Sandie and nominated her for the award. "Thankfully, Sandie guided me through every step of the way.
"Without her, I don’t know what I would have done. She’s truly professional, incredibly kind and goes above and beyond for every single one of her patients. There’s no one more deserving of this award."
When Sandie started at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, there were no nursing services for men with prostate cancer, leaving many to come to terms with their diagnosis and meander through their treatment on their own. So she immediately set up a nurse-led follow-up clinic, providing them with the support, information and the ongoing care that they desperately needed.
Sandie went on to become the point of contact for men right from diagnosis – providing patients with their biopsy results and talking them through their treatment options. She even trained to become the only nurse in Wales able to perform prostate biopsies, so patients were cared for by her throughout their entire prostate cancer journey.
"This award means so much to me," she said. "It means that I’ve been doing right by the men that I’m here to support, which to me is more important than anything. I love my job and knowing that I’ve made a difference in some small way has made everything truly worthwhile."
Sandie is also a founding member of a local prostate cancer support group and has raised lots of money for local prostate cancer charities, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro last year and raising over £6,000. She's now looking forward to retirement and is currently training one of her colleagues to continue the prostate cancer services that she has set up at Wrexham.
"We’re delighted to present this award and bursary to Sandie," says Leceia Gordon-Mackenzie, our Change Delivery Senior Officer. "When any man receives the devastating news that he has prostate cancer, he is catapulted into a world of worry and uncertainty.
"But nurses like Sandie can make all the difference – ensuring patients feel supported and cared for throughout their prostate cancer journey. We can’t thank Sandie enough for the remarkable lengths that she has gone to over the last 20 years to care for many thousands of prostate cancer patients in Wrexham and beyond."
The number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is increasing year on year, and it’s expected to become the most common cancer overall by 2030. But the prostate cancer nursing workforce is currently under-resourced and not prepared for the significant increase in prostate cancer cases.
"With a significant number of nurses coming up to retirement or intending to leave nursing within the next ten years, and no clear plans to train a new workforce, patients face a future without the experience and expertise needed for their care," says Leceia. "We urgently need more nurses, like Sandie, with the specialised knowledge required to care for men with prostate cancer, and Prostate Cancer UK is campaigning to ensure this void is filled before it’s too late."