Humans of the Hospital: Catherine Owen

Westmead Hospital radiation therapist Catherine Owen

“People deal with a cancer diagnosis very differently.

“A lot of them are much stronger than they think – even just turning up for treatment is an inner strength that I don’t think they realise they’ve got.

“Some people are angry and ‘why me?’ – they feel like they’ve been dealt a hard hand.

“Others are ‘why not me?’ because cancer is so common these days.

“Dealing with cancer patients day in, day out, can be very hard.

“You try to keep your distance but you can’t do your job properly if you’re too disjointed – you’ve got to have compassion and you’ve got to let patients in.

“We’re often the first point of call for these people. We’re treating them every day, for five or six weeks; we get to know them and they get to know us, they become comfortable with us.

“Radiation therapy is a very intimate thing so patients do tend to tell us things and you’ve just got to be there for them.

“I’ve treated hundreds of patients over the years and I feel honoured to have been involved in each and every patient’s journey – either to a cure or being able to improve their quality of life.

“It’s very rewarding to know I’ve made a difference to their outcome.

“Lots of people have asked me how I’ve been in the same job, in the same place for more than 30 years. For me, it’s easy. I’ve been lucky enough to fall into a job that I genuinely enjoy. It was the perfect choice.”

– Westmead Hospital radiation therapist Catherine Owen

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