Meet the cancer nurse specialists


Abigail Hardy (Abby)

Colorectal clinical nurse specialist – surgery and oncology

Colchester Hospital, Clacton Hospital

I started working in the trust in 2002 as a healthcare assistant and quickly went on to do my nurse training within the trust.  I qualified as a nurse in 2006 and spent my first three years in the recovery units, with a six-month gap working in London.

I then moved into critical care and worked there from 2009-2013. At the end of 2013 I joined the bowel cancer screening programme within the trust as a specialist screening practitioner before becoming the lead in 2016. At the start of 2018 I moved into the colorectal clinical nurse specialist role and work with patients and their families who have been diagnosed with bowel cancer from the point of diagnosis through curative and palliative pathways including surgical and oncology treatments.

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Amanda Sayer

Colorectal clinical nurse specialist

Colchester Hospital, Clacton Hospital

I have worked for Colchester Hospital since May 2017.  Prior to this I worked as a nurse endoscopist at Ipswich Hospital for 12 years.

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Amy Sibbons

Uro-oncology clinical nurse specialist

Colchester Hospital

As a newly qualified nurse I worked on an orthopaedic ward at Colchester Hospital. I had always had a passion for oncology so after I had been qualified 18 months I decided to pursue my ambition of working in oncology and was lucky enough to be given a position at Jefferson ward at Essex County Hospital where I worked for two years as a staff nurse. After two years at the hospital, I visited the CNS team at Colchester and was appointed in a developmental role as their support CNS.  Once I had learnt the ropes and developed my knowledge I was promoted to a clinical nurse specialist.

During my time as a CNS I have attended many conferences, been involved in service development, ran nurse led clinics, completed a Masters in advanced healthcare practice and qualified as a non-medical prescriber.

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Andrea Nears

Secondary / advanced breast cancer

Colchester Hospital

I qualified as a registered nurse in September 1998 at Northumbria University at Newcastle. I have worked on medical wards and then moved to Essex. At Colchester Hospital I have worked in the outpatients department including the oncology clinics, and then worked in oncology clinical trials conducting breast cancer trials.

I joined the breast team in June 2016 as a secondary breast clinical nurse specialist. My role involves supporting patients with secondary/advanced breast cancer from the point of diagnosis throughout their treatment.

I also run nurse led treatment clinics to administer bone strengthening injections and monitor the side effects. I have gained considerable knowledge and experience since working in this role.

I have completed the ‘principles of breast cancer care’ module at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

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Angela Haigh

Breast cancer

Colchester Hospital

I qualified as a registered general nurse in April 2004 at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford and Colchester Hospital. I worked as a staff nurse for six months on a surgical ward specialising in vascular surgery, followed by three years as a staff nurse on a breast and gynaecological ward.

I joined the breast team in July 2007 as a breast clinical nurse specialist. My role involves supporting patients diagnosed with breast cancer and the BRCA gene mutation through diagnosis, treatment and after treatment. I also run my own nurse led clinics in lymphoedema assessment and management, prosthesis fitting and nipple tattooing. I have a special interest in breast cancer genetics, breast reconstruction and survivorship.

Education and training: MSc Advanced Cancer nursing practice – Royal Marsden and St George’s University London

BSc (HONS) in cancer practice – Royal Marsden and Thames Valley University London

Registered General Nurse – Anglia Ruskin University, Chelmsford

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Emma Brown

Stoma care

Colchester Hospital, Clacton Hospital, Harwich Hospital, Community and home visits

I began my career on the colorectal and upper gastrointestinal surgical wards at Ipswich Hospital after completing a nursing diploma at the University of Essex in 1994. I moved to Colchester Hospital 6 years later and completed a degree in surgical nursing at Anglia Ruskin University 2003.

I took up my role as clinical nurse specialist in 2009 and underwent additional specialist training in stoma care in 2010. I play an active role in the Essex regional stoma group, and regularly attend meetings and study days to keep up-to-date with the latest practice.

I am a member of the Association of Stoma Care Nurses (ASCN) and the Royal College of Nursing.

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Jessica Thompson

Head and neck cancer

Colchester Hospital

I joined ESNEFT in August 2018, having completed my nurse training at Colchester Hospital in 2010.

I work within Head & Neck, which covers cancers of the ear, nose, throat and oral-maxillofacial.

I worked at Broomfield Hospital for 5 years prior to this, working in the same speciality but including plastic surgery.  It was a post-operative ward for surgical patients, including those requiring a tracheostomy. I worked as a staff nurse there for 2 years and was then promoted to deputy sister for a further 3 years before moving to ESNEFT.

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Joanne O'Callaghan

Primary breast cancer with special interest in breast cancer related lymphoedema

Colchester Hospital

I have worked within this role at Colchester for the past 8 years, gaining knowledge through both experience and formal qualifications.

I initially became interested in breast cancer and completed the Level 6 module at the Royal Marsden Hospital while working in the private sector.

In recent years I have completed a Postgraduate Certificate at level 7 in Healthcare (Cancer) at St George’s Hospital Medical School.

My role involves working with and supporting patients as a keyworker when diagnosed with primary breast cancer. I support them throughout their treatment journey as appropriate.

Prior to this I have worked at different grades in surgical, medical and intensive care wards having initially qualified in Kettering, Northamptonshire in 1984.

I have an interest in lymphoedema secondary to breast cancer and run the service with a colleague.


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Julia Reynolds


Colchester Hospital

I qualified as a staff nurse in 1996 and began my career as a junior staff nurse on one of the oncology wards. After progressing to senior staff nurse, I further extended my role as clinical skills nurse for oncology. I then developed to junior sister and then to ward sister of Jefferson Ward.

During my time as ward sister I completed my palliative care degree and in 2011 began 7 years with the palliative care team taking special interest in the education of palliative care within the trust. I have recently moved into the urology team as clinical nurse specialist

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Julie Watson

Macmillan myeloma clinical nurse specialist

Colchester Hospital

I have worked at Colchester Hospital for 8 years and I have been the myeloma nurse for over 3 years.

I am fortunate to work with patients and their families that have myeloma.

You may meet me at the point of referral, before a diagnosis is made and I will perform or arrange your investigations. Once a diagnosis is confirmed I will be your main point of contact and aim to provide up to date and readable information about myeloma.

I will explain the treatment options and side effects, offer emotional support and refer to other agencies for help if required, ensuring your care is focused to meet your specific needs. I have strong links with the myeloma team at St Barts Hospital in London, and share training with them which keeps my knowledge and understanding current. I attend conferences and study days provided by Macmillan, Myeloma UK and other organisations.


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Karen Buckland

Macmillan lympoma clinical nurse specialist

Colchester Hospital

I have worked for Colchester Hospital for 11 years in this role. Previously I was the matron for haematology and managed the haematology day units at Basildon, Guys and St.Thomas Hospitals.

My current role specifically deals with lymphoma patients. I am involved at different points in their care pathway (pre-diagnosis, diagnosis, treatment, follow up, relapse and end of life).   I provide information, explain treatment options, offer emotional support, sign post patients to the most appropriate department for their specific needs, and where possible ensure that care is individualised.

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Karen Hobbs

Breast care

Colchester Hospital

I qualified as a registered general nurse in September 2007 at Buckingham Chilterns University College. Since my training I have moved to Essex and worked as a district nurse in Ipswich and also in palliative care at St Helena Hospice.

I joined the breast team in January 2017 as a breast care clinical nurse specialist. My role involves supporting patients diagnosed with breast cancer from the point of diagnosis, throughout their treatment and after they have finished treatment.

I run my own nurse led clinics to discuss surgical procedures and I see patients after they have finished their treatment to discuss any concerns they may have. I also cover the secondary breast care nurse role when needed.

I completed my BSc (Hons) in Palliative Care in 2013.

I have just completed my Principles of breast cancer care module at the Royal Marsden at Masters Level.

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Karen Spurgeon

Cancer including oesophagus, stomach, small bowel, pancreas, gall bladder, liver and bile duct. Neuroendocrine tumours.

Colchester Hospital

I began working at Colchester Hospital in 2016. Prior to this I have had a variety of roles both within  acute and community settings. Previous roles include palliative care CNS at Ipswich, King George and Newham Hospitals, end of life care GP education facilitator for Essex Cancer Network and nurse manager for Continuing Care Mid Essex CCG.

I was also a staff nurse at Royal Marsden and Royal London Hospitals having completed my nursing training in 1988 at Newham Hospital in East London.

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Kathy Rooke


Colchester Hospital

I trained at Broomfield Hospital in 1989 and left to travel in South Africa for 6 months. On my return I took up a full time post as a staff nurse (and was promoted to senior staff nurse) at the Essex Nuffield in Brentwood. I left in October 1997 to take up a full time post as a research sister – breast care, working between Colchester and Chelmsford breast units.  My responsibilities included recruiting to and co-ordinating/managing several breast research studies. I continued in this role for the following 16 years.

I left Chelmsford in October 2013 to take up full time work at Colchester, continuing with breast research 2 days per week, but also taking up a new role simultaneously as breast clinical nurse specialist 3 days per week. In October 2016 I left the research role to become a full time breast CNS nursing. I have worked at Colchester with the breast team for over 20 years.

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Kay Selfe

Upper GI oncology (cancer) includes cancer of the oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, bile duct, liver, gall bladder and small bowel

Colchester Hospital

I have worked as the UGI CNS for Colchester Hospital since 2011, prior to this I was the UGI CNS for Ipswich Hospital from 2004.

I have worked in oncology (cancer) my entire nursing career. I qualified in 1991, having trained at Colchester. My first role was as a staff nurse at Essex County Hospital on the oncology ward. Since then I have worked as a palliative care nurse at St Helena Hospice and as a chemotherapy nurse at Ipswich Hospital before becoming a CNS.

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Lucy Powell

Uro-oncology. Specialist areas: prostate, testis, penile cancer

Colchester Hospital

I have been employed by Colchester Hospital since qualifying in 1994, and have worked in many hospital areas, but have specialised in urology.

I have a MSC in advanced clinical practice (uro-oncology) and review patient information for Prostate Cancer UK and sit on their education advisory committee.  I am also a Trustee of the British Association of Urology Nurses.

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Maggie Braithwaite

Uro-oncology, urology

Colchester Hospital

I came to Colchester in 1986 to commence my nurse training. I qualified in 1989 and found throughout my training I had a particular interest in working within a surgical environment.

In 1995 I was recruited as deputy sister within the Urology Ward where I worked for 10 years. Subsequently, after Colchester Hospital won the Urology Cancer Centre bid in 2004 / 2005, a post became available for an additional urology cancer nurse specialist to develop a new service for bladder and kidney cancer patients.


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Natalie Wheatley

Surgery and cancer

Colchester Hospital

I qualified in October 2004, having undertaken the degree programme at Anglia Polytechnic University. I have worked for Colchester Hospital since I qualified.  I spent the first 18 months working as a staff nurse in care of the elderly, A&E, general surgery and orthopaedics.

From April 2006 until January 2009 I worked as staff nurse on the oncology inpatient ward.  From 2009 until 2017, I was a research nurse, caring for patients undergoing clinical trials in both cancer and non-cancer studies.

Since May 2017, I have been employed as a colorectal clinical nurse specialist, caring for patients with a colon, rectal or anal cancer with regards to both surgery and oncology.  I look after patients throughout their cancer treatment, whether it is with a curative or palliative intent.  I also support the bowel cancer follow up clinic.

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Rachel Minter


Colchester Hospital

I qualified in 1994 after completing Project 2000 registered nurse training in Colchester.  I initially worked at Guys and St Thomas’s hospital in gynaecology, and my first post motivated me to pursue my interest in oncology.

On my return to Colchester I started nursing in oncology at Essex County Hospital and remained there for several years developing my skills by working in different roles as registered nurse, deputy sister and ward sister.  I also completed my degree in palliative care, which further inspired me.

The knowledge and experience I gained in these roles all contributed to my development and transition to be a uro-oncology CNS.

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Sally Philpott

Head and neck cancer, thyroid cancer

Colchester Hospital, Clacton Hospital, Essex County Hospital

I began working at Colchester Hospital in 2002 as the head and neck clinical nurse specialist. Prior to this I had worked solely in the field of ENT / head and neck cancer nursing.

My previous job was at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford as ward sister on the head and neck surgical ward. Within my role here in Colchester I support patients and their carers who have cancer in their mouth, throat, tongue, jaw, voice box and neck. I also provide support for patients with thyroid cancer.

I meet patients when they are diagnosed and provide a means of support both in person and via telephone before, during and after treatment.  Treatment is often complex with multiple side effects and consequences; my role means that I am able to help patients and their families find ways to manage these effectively.

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Shelly Pledger

Acute cancer

Colchester Hospital

Colchester was one of the first “pilot sites” to set up an acute oncology service 6 years ago. I am based in the busy emergency assessment unit and see patients admitted directly with complications from their cancer or cancer treatments.

I have worked for the trust for over 30 years in various roles and have experience with in-patient surgical, medical, palliative, oncology and out-patient chemotherapy administration.

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Victoria Clark

Macmillan lung cancer clinical nurse specialist

Colchester Hospital

I qualified as a registered general nurse in 1992 after completing my training at Colchester Hospital. My background is oncology nursing, having previously worked as a chemotherapy nurse, oncology clinical trials nurse and Macmillan lung cancer clinical nurse specialist.

I have completed MSc in healthcare practice and work closely with the oncology and thoracic medicine teams.

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