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When Bec Leslie left her home country of New Zealand for Australia in her early 20s, she was looking for adventure and to grow her career as a nurse.
She had always had her eyes set on working for Mater. Its strong values, tradition and its positive reputation in the community appealed to her.
Bec’s perseverance paid off and Mater at South Brisbane has been her “second home” for the past 20 years.
Not everyone speaks so highly of their workplace but for Bec it comes naturally, as she is truly proud to work for an organisation that improves the lives of so many in the community and does it with dignity and compassion.
Bec started at Mater as an orthopaedic nurse and after holding various positions she’s currently a Patient Flow Manager at Mater Private Hospital Brisbane—a job she loves.
“I’m super proud of our organisation and what we do and how we all contribute to caring for our patients,” Bec said.
“It’s not just from nurses; it could be a hospital steward or people in food services, they all embody the Mater Values. I see little things and I think to myself; ‘that’s why I work here’.”
After more than two decades caring for others at Mater, Bec never thought it would be her sitting in a hospital bed being treated by her colleagues and friends.
Last year, Bec was diagnosed with breast cancer—a few simple words that rocked her world and that of her family.
“It was such a shock as I’m vigilant about checking my breasts and I’ve never had an issue.”
In typical fashion, Bec remained positive that this diagnoses was just a bump in the road and with the care of Mater’s exceptional health professionals, she would be back with her colleagues in no time.
However, to find out it was a grade three, triple negative tumour, was devastating news that Bec struggled to come to terms with.
“My assumption with breast cancer was it was so widely out there in the media and there was so much fundraising and awareness. I thought all breast cancers were well researched and supported with treatment and targeted therapies,” Bec said.
“To find out that your cancer doesn’t have a targeted therapy and it’s not widely researched is very scary.”
Telling her husband that she had breast cancer was made all the more difficult, Bec said.
“When I found out I was very protective of my husband. I thought ‘you poor man’. His previous wife had died from cancer. How could I do this to him?”
Bec’s son Justin was in Year 12 when she had to sit him down and share the devastating news.
“Bless him. He said to me, ‘Mum, I think we have been through worse things before’.”
Bec had a lumpectomy at Mater Private Hospital Brisbane, followed by high-intensive chemotherapy at Mater Cancer Care Centre every three weeks for six months.
“I thought 'I’m hard-as-nails Bec and I’ll be fine' but chemotherapy was woeful,” she said.
“It was a lot harder and challenging than I could prepare for but having my treatment at Mater; being cared for by people I knew, was very important to me.”
It was the practical support from Mater Chicks in Pink and her breast cancer nurse Sally that helped her get through the dark days.
“To receive support items from Mater Chicks in Pink was a great help at a time when even the smallest gesture means so much,” Bec said.
“My breast care nurse was an incredible support to me. She was there on the end of the phone to listen and offer me the advice I needed to make important decisions.
“She was my lifeline when I didn’t want to dump all my worries on my family.”
While it was a gruelling six months of treatment and recovery, Bec is now in ‘survivorship’ which for her means vigilance and focussing on what’s important to her—family, friends and fitness.
Bec was so grateful for the care she received at Mater that she and her husband decided to leave a gift in their Will to Mater.
It’s Include a Charity Week (10 to 16 September), a time to reflect on the legacies that have been left by Mater supporters, patients and Mater staff members like Bec.
“Mater is really important to me, what we do is really important to me so why wouldn’t I leave a gift?” Bec said.
“I know that my gift will make a big difference to people’s lives, whether it’s supporting patients on a practical level or funding important research projects at Mater.
“It’s really nice to think that I will have a positive impact on a patient or our community when I’m not here.”
For more information on how you can leave a gift to Mater visit www.letyourloveliveon.org.au