One of Canberra's favourite oncology Canberra nurses describes her initial desire to swim with the dolphins, the reason she comes to work and why she has a special connection with oncology children and their families.
How did you fall into nursing?
My mum is a Doctor who worked with children. I always knew I wanted to do something with children and couldn’t decide between teaching and nursing. I did a degree in early childhood education first, but had a hard time securing a permanent job. After a long discussion with a nurse, I headed back to university and I haven’t looked back!
Did you always want to be a nurse?
I wouldn’t say I always wanted to be a nurse, when I was at school I wanted to be a marine biologist and swim with dolphins all day! Although I can’t imagine doing anything else now! You care for people at their most vulnerable and really have a chance to make a difference to their journey. Whether it’s providing support and reassurance to a parent whose child is going to theatre, or playing with and distracting a child who is having treatment. I think it’s a privilege to be part of any family’s time in hospital, whether a one-off visit or a life long journey.
You have a special bond with oncology children, why do you think that is?
I have an enormous respect for oncology families. I think children with cancer don’t have the same anxieties associated with cancer that adults do. They want to know if their hair is going to be pink or curly or straight when it comes back! They seem to have an inner resilience, they just get through it! Children can normally be encouraged (bribed!) by a lollipop or a sticker, or a movie, something adult’s can’t! People ask ‘isn’t it hard’, but I would say oncology children are the most rewarding because in many cases they recover and move on with their lives. I have seen successful adults come back to the long term follow up clinic, which is encouraging for parents of children currently going through treatment.
As an ambassador for win the day charity, what is it about the charity that you like?
There are many oncology charities who support families of children with cancer. The thing I love about Win the Day is that they recognise that parents are so focused on their child they often forget to look after themselves. I have seen many parents at their child’s bedside, who forget to eat and look after themselves and wonder why they are exhausted! I think that providing meals for parents is so important!
How do you win the day?
I hope I Win the day by caring for all the families of children with a chronic illness in my day to day work! I love being able to make a long-term connection with children, and adapting my practice to make them feel comfortable and confident when they come to hospital. I feel it’s very special to see them through some of the most challenging times and out the other side. Working with children even on the hardest day, makes me so grateful!
If you weren’t in the ward of the hospital where would we find you?
When I’m not at work, I enjoy spending time with my parents and family. I am an Aunty to 10 and an adopted aunty for many more. I am also a lover of running the trails around Canberra and exercising with friends. I also love singing and belong to a local choir. Each day is a gift and you have to make the most of it!