During the last year of her nursing degree at La Trobe University, Caitie Emiris lost her Dad, Andy, to brain cancer. Andy was a patient at the ONJ Centre, and after seeing how the wellness and supportive care programs helped her family, Caitie wanted to give something back to other patients and families going through cancer diagnosis and treatment.
“Dad was diagnosed in the first year of my nursing degree and he died in my final year,” says Caitie. “I learned about the Wellness Centre through Mum and Dad’s involvement. The support groups were so helpful for them. Dad went to the Brain Tumour Support Group and found it helped him know what to expect, like ‘chemo fog’. Mum went to the Carers Support Group which helped her manage her own stress and talk about things she didn’t want to talk to Dad about.”
Caitie felt like her family received so much help and support from the ONJ Centre during such a traumatic and devastating time that she owed it to the Centre to give back and help out. She began volunteering at the Wellness Centre in her summer break.
“I felt like I had a lot of time and it seemed like a rewarding way to just give my time and put a smile on people’s faces, having been through it and understanding what many of them are going through. One day I helped bring patients down from the Palliative Care ward for their wellness sessions. I found that a little bit confronting, but it was nice in a sense as well because I felt like Dad was still up there. It just feels like I’m meant to be here, it’s comforting almost.”
And in what completes a full circle for this remarkable and brave young woman, Caitie took up a position as a graduate nurse in the Emergency Department (ED) at Austin Health this year.
“I just always wanted to be in an environment where I helped other people,” says Caitie. “Working in ED I love hearing people’s stories because it opens your mind to how different people live and different cultures and that everyone has their own battles. It gives me a different perspective on life and it makes me a better person.”
“Mum said to me she didn’t know how I managed to come here every day, she would just cry and think of Dad. The first time I came after Dad had died and we parked in the car park, all I could think about was that. But now I think this hospital did us good so I want to give the hospital my service. It’s great – I see so many things, I learn so much, I talk to so many people, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
“And I think my Dad would be proud of me.”
Andy Emiris was a patient at the ONJ Cancer Centre and featured in our 2015 Christmas Appeal. The Wellness programs rely fully on funding from the community. Your donation can help give support to families like Caitie’s during cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Help by making a donation today.
More about Wellness & Supportive Care programs at the ONJ Cancer Centre.