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Press Release

Oncology Nurses and New Class Help Contra Costa Cancer Patients Cope

May is Oncology Nursing Month

May 23, 2007

Cancer patient Yale Brettschneider knows he's in for a tough fight. The 60-year-old's cancer has spread to his lymph nodes and he's undergoing chemotherapy at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center in Martinez (CCRMC).

But he's not alone. The oncology nurses at CCRMC' Cancer Center are by his side, and a new class taught by the nurses has helped prepare him for his treatment. It's these nurses who are often the unsung heroes in the battle against cancer. May is Oncology Nursing Month in honor of the work they do.

"They are phenomenal. They listen to you, and they have helped me so much," said Brettschneider, who lives in Concord. "There's no comparison to chemotherapy until you actually go through it. It's been really tough, but the class helped me know what to expect."

The new "Understanding Chemotherapy" class was developed by CCRMC Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist Marianne Bunce-Houston. She has worked in the field of oncology for 20 years and decided to create a class for patients before they start their first chemotherapy treatment to help demystify the chemotherapy process and reduce patient anxiety. The class is taught in both English and Spanish. She also hopes to start a new support group for parents of children with cancer in the next few months,

"Cancer can be such an overwhelming experience. Oncology nurses strive to create a supportive environment to help patients understand the treatments they will receive and empower them with knowledge and tools to help them cope," Bunce-Houston said.

The one-hour class educates patients about the treatment side effects and ways to prevent or manage them, as well as tips for things to avoid when in treatment, such as sun exposure. The class supplements the work the oncology nurses do on an ongoing basis, she said.

"The nurses are the ones who do the education, they support the patients through all their treatments and they help instill hope," Bunce-Houston said.

Brettschneider agreed. He is particularly grateful to Bunce-Houston and recommends her class.

"She made it a lot easier for me. If it wasn't for her, I'd be in a lot of trouble," he said.

The "Understanding Chemotherapy" class is held every Friday and is open to cancer CCRMC patients and their families or caregivers. Registration is required. For more information, contact Marianne Bunce-Houston at or call 925-370-5822.

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Press Contact
  • Marianne Bunce-Houston, RN
  • 707-319-9641