Pa­tients give strength

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Near You -

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.”

al­ready

Pic­ture: Marcelo Pala­cios

Close shave: Donna Hey­ward and her daugther Lau­ren (4).

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