Westmead nurse swims in memory of patient to raise money for cancer

Clinical nurse specialist Annie Black and her swimming trophies from previous years

Just a few days before Christmas, Westmead Hospital’s neuro-trauma close observation unit lost one of their most-loved patients: Robert Prasad.

Robert spent eight months in Westmead Hospital before succumbing to a brain tumour. His wife Steph was by his side every day and became a close friend to all staff in the unit.

High school sweethearts Robert and Stephanie on their wedding day

Clinical nurse specialist Annie Black said that Robert’s passing took its toll on every staff member in the ward.

“We got to know Robert’s entire family while he was our patient. And when you care for someone 24/7 for such a long time, you develop a connection with them and with their family,” Annie said.

After Robert passed away, his wife Steph asked family and friends to donate to the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation in lieu of sending flowers. It coincided with the time when Annie was registering for the Cole Classic, an ocean swim in Manly which has been her annual tradition for six years.

Annie and her swimming trophies from previous years

“This year, I decided to swim in Rob’s memory and support Steph’s idea to raise money for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation,” Annie said.

“I always try to raise money for a worthy cause when I participate in this ocean race. This year’s fundraiser is particularly special for me because of Rob, of course, but also because all the staff in our unit works with people suffering from brain cancer and it is an extremely daunting disease.

“With brain cancer, people may lose their personalities, their speech and sometimes the ability to move and interact. It can also progress very quickly.  It is very distressing for patients and their families.”

Cure Brain Cancer Foundation is conducting innovative research aimed at increasing the five-year survival rate from 20% to 50% by 2023.

Annie just after finishing the Cole Classic swim in Manly in one of the previous years. She usually swims 1 km race and then joins the 2 km race, which she hopes to win one day.

“Within the first 24 hours after creating our fundraiser we received substantial donations from Robert’s family and friends. It was overwhelming to see such support,” Annie said.

Annie will take part in a two-kilometre race from Shelly Beach to Manly on February 7, 2021. If you wish to support her fundraiser, reach out on Annie.Black@health.nsw.gov.au or in C3C Neuro-Trauma Close Observation Unit at Westmead Hospital.