Margaret Gandy is one of five people nominated for Griffith citizen of the year, the main category of Griffith City Council’s Australia Day awards.
Ms Gandy retired this year after working as a much loved oncology nurse for more than 40 years.
We caught up with Ms Gandy this week to shed some light on nursing, her contribution to the Griffith community and her views on the current state of health care. Her responses are summarised below.
How do you feel about your nomination?
I feel very humbled and proud.
But there’s a lot of people out there doing a lot of good work that people don’t know about.
What has changed since you started in nursing in 1972?
Back then, you couldn’t even get in the lift with someone more senior than you. You couldn’t talk to your seniors.
Cancer treatment and technology have also improved dramatically.
How have these improvements impacted on patients?
It’s not all doom and gloom anymore.
People can have cancer for many years and do very well.
We now call it a a chronic disease, as opposed to an acute disease.
What do you miss about the job?
I’ll never forget the emotional gifts my patients gave me.
I remember someone writing in my card ‘thank you for singing to me while they were putting the needing in’.
I worked with a great team and we used to have a lot of fun.
Is there anything about the hospital/health care system that needs to change?
I think we could consult better with the staff on the ground and those we treat. We should seek input from Aboriginal communities, rather than just tell them what we’re doing.
Oncology nurses work under very difficult conditions. We need more staff and bigger and better facilities. And we need it now, not years down the track.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in nursing?
Go for it. It’s a great job. But make sure you look after yourself.
Learn how to say no. You can’t keep doing double shifts and working eight days in row.
Griffith City Council’s other nominees for citizen of the year are Toni Howard, Ross Catanzariti, Margaret Gandy, Dr Narayanan Jayachandran and Dr Peter Calaizis.