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Mrs Ellyn Proffit

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Te Whatu Ora Waikato

How does the metaphorical conversation Te Awa assist young people to traverse their cancer journey?

Ellyn is one of seven key workers throughout New Zealand supporting adolescents and young adults – 12-24 year olds with a cancer diagnosis, aka as her ‘Bosses’.

Being a young person ‘today’ can be hard, add in a life threatening illness such as cancer and one can find themselves on a very turbulent and twisting river; otherwise known as the ‘cancer journey’.

In 2009 Ellyn created ‘Te Awa’ a metaphorical conversation using the metaphor of a flowing river to help rangatahi talk about different aspects of their cancer diagnosis. Te Awa conversations can range from coping with the impact of cancer, the positive and negative effects it can have on relationships with friends and family, various treatment pathways along the cancer continuum, through to emotional and psychological coping skills required along the trajectory.

Over the years Bosses, whanau and health colleagues shared with her the value Te Awa brought them, so the time came to formally learn from them ‘how’ Te Awa actually helped!

Ellyn will share with the research findings from her Masters of Nursing and how it continues to be a core tool used daily in her mahi supporting rangatahi!”

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