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Mater nurse Alison Tritton has always known that her colleagues are special people.
But it was only when she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer that she realised just how special Mater’s 5400 nurses really are.
The mum-of-two had worked in senior nursing roles across its South Brisbane hospitals for almost 30 years when last May she found a lump in breast.
“I decided to call another nurse at Mater who had had breast cancer,” Alison said.
“She was just wonderful. She told me to arrange an ultrasound and mammogram straight away. I did exactly what she said – and the rest is history, as they say.”
That phone call was the first instance of the flood of support that Alison would receive from nurses across Mater during her fight for life.
And it’s why International Nurses Day 2023 is such an important day for her.
Alison’s treatment began with the expert nursing team at Mater Private Hospital Brisbane’s Breast Care Unit – and emotional support came from her colleagues in the orthopaedic ward where she was Nurse Unit Manager.
“The staff on my ward were simply fantastic,” Alison said.
“They gave me so much love and support – offering me help and doing anything they could for me.
“But I also learned that sometimes good nurses don’t have to say or do anything at all. Sometimes as a nurse you just have to be there – that’s what matters most.”
Even as her frightening cancer journey began, Alison was still focused on the needs of others, according to orthopaedic ward Clinical Nurse Libby Pattison.
“I was actually trained by Alison 24 years ago and the whole team here looks up to her so much,” Libby said.
“Some of the girls had a hard time accepting the news and Alison comforted them. So even though she had been diagnosed with cancer Alison was worried about how other people were dealing with it – I think she’s an amazing nurse.”
Prior to undergoing surgery and radiation therapy, Alison began a long course of chemotherapy at the Mater Cancer Care Centre, where Registered Nurse Emily Johnson was part of her treatment team.
“I recognised Alison but it was only when she came to MCCC that I got to know her well,” Emily said.
“She was an absolute soldier, a real survivor. This job can be emotionally taxing, but to witness someone like Alison travelling through their cancer journey and coming out the other side is just beautiful.”
Alison is now cancer free and she’s planning to return to work soon – but she’ll always be in awe of the nurses who cared for her throughout her year of gruelling treatment.
“I have come a long way, and there have been some dark times, but this experience has made me appreciate nurses more than ever,” Alison said.
“The Mater really is like a huge family – and they were definitely there for me.”
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