When Kate Staib joined the patient administration team in the Forbes Cancer Care Centre at St Stephen’s Hospital, she felt at home almost immediately.
For three years, the Hervey Bay born local has been working at the front desk admitting oncology patients and says it’s one of the most rewarding jobs she’s had so far in her career.
“I think the best part is just the people and patients. It’s a really special place to work,” said Kate.
Caring is in Kate’s blood. For eight years she worked in the aged care sector as a Care Coordinator with Blue Care in Hervey Bay.
While that role was busy and sometimes challenging, it also helped prepare her for her position at the Forbes Cancer Care Centre, where respect and compassion are among the values that are held high.
“A lot of people say to me, even my friends, ‘does it make you sad at all?’ and I tell them this is a place of healing,” said Kate.
“We are treating people with medicine who are really unwell, so they can hopefully get better.”
There’s not a day at work that Kate doesn’t think about how much patients must endure during their cancer journey.
“I take a lot of inspiration from our patients, some of them have a huge battle ahead of them,” said Kate.
“They ask me how my day is going, and really it’s fine! It’s nothing compared to what they’re about to do.”
Kate says she’s grateful that she works with a committed team and supportive manager.
As the region’s only private cancer care centre, the days can be very busy.
For Kate, it’s the relationships she’s formed with patients that gives her motivation to keep going when times are challenging.
“For three years we've had the same people coming in for treatment. They become like family when they come in week in and week out,” said Kate.
“We know the wife, we know the children, we've had numerous Easter’s and Christmas’s together, and they’ve bought us presents.
“So, when they pass away it’s tough, but it's also a process where we debrief together.
“It’s knowing that we did our best and we gave it 110%.”
Through the COVID-19 restrictions, when no volunteers or family members were allowed stay with patients during treatment, Kate and other team members stepped in.
“We became the person to sit with them, make them laugh and have a chat,” said Kate.
“It was particularly hard for the new patients when they came in for treatment. I think we did a lovely job and tried to make it easier without their families there.”
Connecting with patients and learning about their lives is a special part of the role that Kate relishes.
“I love, love, love the people that come in. Even the cranky ones where you keep trying until they smile at you.
“It’s a very special job and I’m so happy I get to do it.”