There is a new face at the Whanganui Cancer Society office in Koromiko Rd.
Kerri Dewson-Pratt has shouldered the role of Supportive Care Co-ordinator.

Her job is to assess referred clients to see what may or may not be needed and what the Cancer Society can offer them. She is a social worker by trade and throughout the Central Districts area social workers are being put into the Supportive Care roles to ensure assessments are done by trained personnel.

"Before this I had two roles. I worked as a new initiative oncology social worker, both in Whanganui and in Palmerston North."
Then this job came up and Kerri could see an end to commuting.
Now she works 28 hours a week with the Cancer Society and another 12 hours at Whanganui Hospital.

"We are hoping to be able to offer more to people on the cancer journey, and this year we want to see if there's interest in more groups and get more involvement in things that are interesting."


The Cancer Society facilitates groups like the Men's Support Group, where men who have had cancer can help those who have been diagnosed.
Services offered at the moment include transport, support groups, massage, counselling, breast care consultants, health promotion and welfare support, as well as programmes like Cancer Connect and Look Good Feel Better.
As part of Kerri's assessment she decides which or how many of those services are needed for a client.
"People can self-refer," says Kerri, "Or they can go through their GP, the oncology team at the hospital or their own oncologist. Or they can just ring me."

Kerri was born in Whanganui and grew up here.
"I had a great childhood and loved Whanganui. I attended Castlecliff Primary School, Rutherford Intermediate and Wanganui High School. I worked in Londontown when I left school. My family moved away to Kerikeri when I was 18." Kerri stayed away for 20 years, returned for seven years when her father took ill, then went away to Hawke's Bay for eight years. She returned six years ago for family reasons, not realising she would stay in Whanganui.

Married for two years, and now with the new position, it doesn't look as if Kerri is going anywhere else soon.
"I love it here [at the Cancer Society]. They're a great team, the atmosphere is relaxed and just lovely — nice people."