by Angela Norval
Marie Routh is someone who understands the difference that a small act of kindness can mean to a person.
When her husband passed away from cancer two years ago, she remembers during his treatment at Cancer Care in Hope Street they both were given the most wonderful and loving care anyone could ever hope for.
After some time had passed Marie decided she would like to become a volunteer there as her way of paying forward for all the kindnesses they received, not only from the nursing staff but from all the administrative staff as well.
For Marie this is a decision that she is so pleased to have made every day.
Volunteering for a little over a year, Marie is delighted to be back volunteering having unfortunately been interrupted by what she describes as too many months away because of Covid restrictions.
Marie said that as part of her volunteering for Cancer Care she was able to help serve morning tea and lunch to the patients, something that was always welcomed.
“It seems to be important to them to have someone take the time to stop and chat about their requests, as well as how they are and anything else they would like to tell me because I am more than happy to share that with them,” she said.
“Many of the patients also like to know what I have been doing and a few know of my loss so it seems to help that I can empathise with their situations.
“I also have made it a priority to remember how they like their coffee/tea and what they like for lunch or snack, because it is the simplest things that can make all the difference.”
Being in Cancer Care, Marie can’t help but develop great fondness for some of her patients, but give her own vulnerability based on the loss of her husband has to be careful that she doesn’t become too close for her own self-protection.
One thing that always remains clear to Marie is the staff at Cancer Care are the most incredible people she has ever been involved with.
“They are so kind and caring and the warmth that radiates from them is palpable.
“They make me feel so special and the welcome I received when I was able to return last month was overwhelming.
“I feel that I am good friends with them and this began when my husband was a patient there and this friendship is continuing.
“Bundaberg Health Services Foundation Volunteer Co-ordinator Tanya O’Shea-Drabsch Tanya is amazing too; she has the ability to make each individual volunteer feel like they are the most important member of the community, while her bubbliness is contagious – a very special lady.
“Add to this a delightful volunteer community at the hospital with us all catching up for Christmas parties and small get togethers; we are all looking forward to future functions when restrictions are lifted.”
As well as volunteering at the hospital, Marie also volunteers at the Mon Repos Turtle Centre which she describes as amazing, especially in anticipation of the season soon to be opening.
It is this commitment and joy that sees Marie encourage others to become a volunteer.
“I understand that volunteering at Cancer Care might seem a little daunting but it is the most rewarding thing you can do.
“It is a great place to be, no one is ever sad despite what is happening there.
“My wonderful husband always said it was the happiest place in Bundaberg and his first oncologist told us it was the noisiest place he had ever worked.
“Noisy because of the laughter that was always emanating from there.
“Volunteering gives back to you far, far more than you can give out.
“The way the patients’ faces lit up when they saw me when I was permitted to come back was so emotive and confirmed to me why I was there.
“If you are asking yourself should you volunteer, I say go for it!”