Breast Cancer Now – We’re Here To Help!

A woman proudly wearing her pink ribbon for Breast Cancer Now

We talk to breast care nurse Jane Murphy from Breast Cancer Now’s helpline team to find out how they are supporting patients and their families through a difficult time…

Jane Murphy

Jane Murphy

“I feel like I’m making a difference every day,” says specialist breast care nurse Jane Murphy, who is a member of Breast Cancer Now’s helpline team.

“As one of the nurses working on Breast Cancer Now’s free and confidential helpline, I’m here to support everyone affected by breast cancer or with concerns about breast health,” she says, adding that this includes breast changes, benign (not cancer) breast conditions and questions about screening.

“Someone may call our helpline because they’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer, are in the middle of chemotherapy, are coping with the emotional rollercoaster of completing treatment or are living with breast cancer – or their relative or friend may have breast cancer.

Whatever someone affected by breast cancer needs to know or discuss, my helpline colleagues and I are here to help.

How did it all start for Jane?

Jane started working on the helpline over 15 years ago, having been a cancer nurse in the NHS where she tried to provide patients with information and support.

“However, finding time to do this was very difficult as, like everyone else in clinical practice, I was working flat out,” she says.

“Working on the Breast Cancer Now helpline, I can spend as much time as a caller requires answering their questions, discussing their fears or simply listening. Being able to talk freely, without judgement and in confidence can really help someone.”

What support is on offer?

As a member of the team, Jane replies to written enquires which are sent to the Ask Our Nurses service.

“This service can be accessed through Breast Cancer Now’s online forum, by email and through our social media,” she says.

Jane, who is also the helpline manager, explains that the nurses who work on the helpline and Ask Our Nurses service have extensive breast health and breast cancer knowledge, skills and experience, as well as access to the latest research and clinical information.

“We provide clinically accurate, evidence-based answers,” she adds.

This means the helpline’s nurses are always learning.

“When I first started working on a helpline, breast cancer treatment was relatively straightforward, with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy.

Now, we also have targeted therapies, immuno-therapies and highly personalised care. We may not always know the answer to every question – but we know where we can try to find it.

The nurses also inform callers about Breast Cancer Now’s support services.

“No matter what someone’s going through, we do our best to provide the support they need,” she says.

“For example, we might suggest Someone Like Me, our peer support service. This connects people who’ve gone through similar experiences of breast cancer – there’s nothing like finding someone who really understands what you’re going through.

“There’s also Moving Forward, which brings together groups of people who have recently completed their main hospital treatment for primary breast cancer, to help them feel more empowered, confident and in control.

“Younger Women Together is specifically for women under the age of 45 diagnosed with breast cancer, and we also have dedicated services for women living with secondary breast cancer.”

The Breast Cancer Now helpline team

Breast Cancer Now helpline team members, Jane with Louise Grimsdell

Jane Murphy with Louise Grimsdell, working to answer calls

There are 25 nurses in the team, with four or five staffing the helpline and Ask Our Nurses service at a time.

“Our team answers about 1,000 calls every month and replies to approximately 250 written enquiries,” reveals Jane.

“Our day starts at 8.45am with a meeting where we discuss new research, treatment updates and anything in the press that might trigger calls, such as a celebrity diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Some calls only last a few minutes while others can take an hour or more, depending on the query. Sometimes people don’t have a specific reason for calling. They just need to talk to someone.

“We deal with challenging and difficult calls but we also hear uplifting, positive stories – and we’re a supportive team. Working here is incredibly rewarding. I’m very proud of the contribution my fellow helpline nurses and I make to Breast Cancer Now’s life-changing support.”

“Don’t be alone with your worries”

Cath Tarrant

Cath Tarrant

Cath Tarrant (51) called Breast Cancer Now’s helpline in 2021 after undergoing a double mastectomy as part of breast cancer treatment.

“After surgery, I was in a lot of pain and also noticed a strange sensation under my arm,” explains Cath. “I was really worried so I rang Breast Cancer Now where I spoke to a lovely nurse who listened to all my concerns, and asked if it felt as though there was a cheese grater under my arm.

“That was exactly how this strange sensation felt and she stressed that, as my lymph nodes had been removed, this was perfectly normal.

“I also mentioned that, because of the pain, I was struggling to do the daily exercises I’d been given. The nurse explained why these exercises were important and this motivated me to persevere.

“It was such a relief to talk to someone kind, knowledgeable and reassuring. And, to say thank you for the help and support I was given by the nurse on the helpline, my husband’s been running marathons to raise money for Breast Cancer Now, and we both took part in a Pink Ribbon Walk.

“A few of my friends have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and my advice to them is always ‘Don’t be alone with your worries. Call the Breast Cancer Now helpline’.”

Breast Cancer Now logoHow to contact the Breast Cancer Now helpline

If you’re worried about breast cancer, or have a question about breast health, speak to Breast Cancer Now’s expert nurses by calling the free helpline on 0808 800 6000 (Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm, Saturday, 9am-1pm) or visit the 24/7 online forum at

Images: Breast Cancer Now

Find out more about the Breast Cancer Now charity and their Pink Ribbon Walk.