THE nurse who helps women through their breast cancer treatment at Hereford Haven said it is a "privilege" to support them through their journey.

Helen Crilly has been a nurse at the breast cancer support centre in St Owen Street for two years, having previously worked as an oncology nurse.

The Hereford Times' One in Eight appeal aims to raise £30,000 for an extra nurse to help the Haven cope with the increased demand for its service.

When women arrive at the centre- whether it be on the day of their diagnosis or five years later- they will talk to Helen for an hour.

She advises either further counselling sessions, an appointment with their nutritionist and/or the use of their complementary therapies.

Helen said: "I call it the rollercoaster ride. Once they have got their diagnosis most of them have their operation quite quickly and then they are told this is your treatment plan; this is what is going to happen and there are a lot of appointments. Often they can't take it all in.

"They can come here for an hour and often they cry. A lot of what I am doing is calming and relaxing them."

She works closely with Jackie Jones, the senior breast care nurse at Hereford Hospital, and is in touch with the hospital three or four times a week.

She said the hospital's role is to treat and support the women, and her role at the Haven is to provide extra complementary support.

Helen said: "They are all fearful it will return. Without fail, the question is, 'Will it come back?'

"I encourage them to get on with their life and to turn the negative into a positive."

She said if they have had a mastectomy they often have issues within their relationship because of how they now feel about their body.

She said: "Often their partners are reassuring them and saying it doesn't bother them. But being a woman- for them breasts are really what make women women. It is that sexualisation.

"But not all partners are good at talking about things. They want to come somewhere else and talk about how they are feeling."

Helen said often she needs to work out what is going on in their life to understand why they are having physical side effects.

She added: "It is rewarding because I have more time with people. I really get to know them, as do the therapists. You can really see the difference from when they first arrive to when they no longer need us.

"It is a privilege to be part of that journey."