Many fans of Pam’s healing hands

Mater Private Hospital Springfield volunteer Pamela Hirst and cancer patient Valmai McDonald, 92, from Ipswich. Photo Peter Wallis.

Mater Private Hospital Springfield volunteer Pamela Hirst has been putting her ‘healing hands’ to good use – helping to relax and bringing smiles to the faces of many cancer patients undergoing treatment.

The qualified masseuse enjoys providing complimentary hand and foot massages to patients receiving treatment at the Mater Cancer Care Centre at Springfield and is one of the hundreds of big-hearted volunteers whom Mater is celebrated during National Volunteer Week (15-21 May).

The 66-year-old, from Walloon, near Ipswich, gave up work to become her mother’s full-time carer before she passed away last year – and now she’s continuing to care for others.

“There’s something special about giving back to people when they need help,” Ms Hirst said.

“Being able to make someone’s life a little better means a lot to me.

“I enjoy having a little chat with the patients as I offer them either a hand or foot massage. It’s a nice way to get to know them, understand what they are going through and make them feel at ease.”

Ms Hirst also volunteers as an operating theatre assistant, helping to put together patient theatre packs, which include items such as hospital gowns and scrub caps.

Recently, Ms Hirst recounted meeting a young girl at the Mater Cancer Care Centre who cut all her hair off during her gruelling chemotherapy treatment.

“We chatted each week and she told me what she wanted to do and hoped to be able to do after treatment,” Ms Hirst said.

“When she finished her treatment, she was told by doctors that her prognosis was good. Then one day she said to me ‘no offence, I hope not to see you again’, and I said the exact same thing back to her.

“It’s incredible the bravery these patients – young and old – need to get through all their treatment. I play such a small role here, but I know it’s meaningful.”

She said being a volunteer was a rewarding role.

“The amazing people I meet each week and the people I work with make volunteering valuable,” Ms Hirst said.

Mater Hospital Senior Manager Judy Johnson described Ms Hirst as a quiet achiever, having clocked up more than 170 hours of volunteer work since August.

“Pam’s gentle manner and compassion makes a real difference to our patients’ experience,” Ms Johnson said.

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