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Having Cancer Wasn't In My Life Plan, and Neither Was Falling In Love With Social Work

April 22nd, 2019 |
Young Adult Cancer, Work & School

by breannemadeline | Survivor: Bone Cancer    Connect


I’ve been social working since a young age.

For those who might know, I just finished and am nearly graduating with my Bachelor of Social Work here in Adelaide! But social work wasn’t my dream job. It didn’t even register on my radar.

I found it hard to relate to my social worker when I had cancer. I found it difficult to listen to her when she had no idea what was going on in my life. I would try and miss my appointments with her or pretend I was asleep because I just couldn’t handle her asking me how I was going.

It’s funny, because I was the oldest in the children’s cancer ward in the Royal Children’s Hospital, so the Nurses would get me to go and speak to the new patients that would come into the ward. I would give them a tour and they could see that you can still live while you have deathly chemotherapy pushed through your veins. I never wallowed in my sorrows about having cancer, instead I found solace and healing in helping other people go through their cancer experience and being a helping hand or a listening ear for them when they needed.

I created fun on the ward, I would play pranks on the nurses just to get a smile out of a kid. Or I would sit and play a game with them to distract them. Even when I finished chemotherapy I would always go into the ward to see kids and to make their day and to show them that I could get through it so they can to. I look back now and that sounds like I was a little social worker in the making. But I had my heart set on being a nurse.

That didn’t quite work out.

So I turned to social work, very hesitantly. I didn’t want to be a social worker, and I hated mine. But alas the nursing direction wasn’t for me. I had encouragement from my friends and workers but I wasn’t sold. To be honest I wasn’t sold until I did my first placement.

Then it clicked: this was the job for me.

I loved speaking to people and advocating for the rights of a person. I hated seeing injustice and I enjoyed challenging other people’s ideas. Eventually I would love to work with Adolescents with cancer because I want to be a social worker that can say, “I can relate” and actually relate to what they are going through. That would be the dream! I still love speaking to adolescences about cancer. Even though it’s been 7 years since I’ve finished I can still understand what it’s like to be in that situation.

Obviously having cancer wasn’t in my life plan but here I am on a path I didn’t even know existed.

It’s like my very own yellow brick road taking me to the emerald city, because like Dorothy, this is the road I was meant to be on all along.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.


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Bree currently resides in Melbourne but is orignally from a small town called Albury on the border of NSW and VIC in Australia. She was diagnosed with an Osteosarcoma in 2011 and is now 6 years cancer free! She has travelled many places in life and always seeking new adventures. She is a Social Work student wanting to pursue her dream of closing the gap of adolescent cancer care!  


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