Patients give strength
DONNA Heyward spends her professional life caring for people with cancer - but instead of expecting gratitude, she feels indebted to her patients.
Ms Heyward has worked as an oncology nurse at Hollywood Private Hospital for the past decade.
She shaved her head for the World’s Greatest Shave fundraiser this month in an effort to “give something back” to cancer patients.
“I know I am helping them, but there is more to seeing our patients endure what they do,” she said.
“It’s different to any other type of nursing – someone getting a knee replacement might be in there for five days and then they go home, but some of our patients will be in and out for five or six years.
“You get to know them and their families, they get to know you and they see the changes in your life … you see each other grow and develop.”
Ms Heyward said patients invariably faced treatment with strength and dignity.
“They never complain, even though to the women especially, losing their hair is like losing part of their identity,” she said.
“When they come in for assessments during their chemo, they say, ‘I’m fine,’ … it is their partner who will pipe up and say that’s not quite true.
“Because you watch people change over that time, and work with the cards they have been dealt, you also learn a lot about yourself and the way you process your own emotions. “It’s a rewarding job.” Ms Heyward and two of her colleagues will shave their heads at Hollywood Bowling Club to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation.
Ms Heyward has raised more than $1300.
“People say I’m brave for doing it,” she said.
“To me, it’s hair - it will grow back. Our patients are the brave ones.”
Close shave: Donna Heyward and her daugther Lauren (4).