Read this heartwarming Q&A with Mater cancer patient Melanie and Mater Clinical Nurse Consultant Esther.
Q) How did you meet Melanie?
A) Esther: Mel and I first met when I introduced myself during her first treatment at the Mater Cancer Care Centre in April 2022. Mel was softly spoken but so welcoming as she shared of her journey to diagnosis and how excited she was to be expecting her second baby, Noah. Our shared nursing humour made for a more relaxed visit as Mel shared with me about her love for family, her work and her hopes for the future. Little did I know what the future would hold for Mel but I came away thinking ‘I have just met an incredibly strong and courageous woman and I can’t wait to learn more about who she is’.
Q) What is your favourite moment together?
A) Esther: My favourite moment with Mel was when I received a video call from her while she was in labour with Noah! It was such a precious time overflowing with laughter and joyful anticipation as we celebrated and as I witnessed Mel and her partner Dhrey interact and laugh together. It felt like time stood still as the focus shifted away from “cancer and chemo” and instead became that of expectant parents eagerly awaiting the safe arrival of their much-loved baby.
Q) How does Melanie inspire you?
A) Esther: Mel’s gentle authenticity has been a poignant reminder of what it means to live with hope deferred when life circumstances change beyond our control. Mel and I were brought together through a heartbreaking diagnosis but during our times together have been interwoven with joy, hope, peace, wisdom and authentic unconditional love. I reminded Mel after being told her cancer had progressed that cancer doesn’t define you and your life means so much more than you can ever know. Mel has chosen to not let her life-limiting diagnosis define or contain her hope – instead she has shown the world what it means to acknowledge and overcome by being fully present as a loving partner, mother and friend.
Q) How has Melanie changed your life?
A) Esther: As nurses we hold a privileged position of being entrusted with our patient’s stories. They invite us to share in some of life’s most intimate moments – like the birth of a child or the news that the cancer has progressed. I’ve seen countless examples of strength and courage but in Mel’s case, she taught me that true strength can be found in gentleness and love!
Q) How has Esther supported you through your breast cancer diagnosis as a 33-year-old mum of two?
A) Melanie: Esther covers all bases, she looks at my treatment holistically and is proactive as to how she can offer her assistance. She asks many questions and follows up on all things. I have felt confident with Esther since I began my cancer journey.
Q) What impact has she had on your life?
A) Melanie: Her impact is immeasurable. I truly value the connection we have made through this difficult part of my life. She has made me feel more supported, valued and seen for who I am away from my cancer diagnosis.
Q) What is something Esther always says that makes your day better?
A) Melanie: She listens to me and validates my feelings. She shares in our happiness and is there with us through harder times. She shows up and meets me where I am and holds space for me always. Esther is a kind and caring person who seizes any opportunity to make things memorable. She recently organised a little birthday party at the Mater Cancer Care Centre for me and invited some of the staff who I’ve come to know from my treatment at the centre.
Q) A time together you'll never forget...
A) Melanie: When I got the news that my cancer had metastasised, she was who I let all the tears out with. Esther’s words and presence were just what I needed in that difficult moment. She is someone who seems to know what to say and do in the most difficult of situations.