Latrobe staff channel their grief into comfort for others

Two ladies smiling at camera

It’s always difficult to cope with the loss of someone close, but for Cath Nicholson’s friends and family, channelling their grief into comfort for others has helped the healing process begin.

Cath began working for the Department of Human services in 1998 at the Latrobe Smart Centre, where she worked for most of her career with the department.

When Cath was holidaying in Scotland in 2012, she discovered a lump in her breast. She was stunned and confused. Being only in her forties, this came as a massive shock to Cath and her friends and family.

After months of chemotherapy, surgeries and countless appointments, Cath went into remission. But unfortunately the breast cancer returned and this time it was more aggressive.

Sadly, Cath passed away on 13 July 2015. Cath was loved by so many at Latrobe, and her passing was a very sad time for the entire smart centre.

“Cath was one of the kindest and most caring people I’ve known. This was clear here in Latrobe, where she inspired and touched the hearts of many people,” said Julie, a close friend and colleague of Cath.

“My husband works with Cath’s husband at the local power station and they came up with the idea to raise money to donate a therapy chair to the local hospital in her memory.

“I asked around at the smart centre to see if other staff would be interested in supporting this, and the response was overwhelming. So we pulled our ideas together and started organising opportunities to raise money.”

The Latrobe Smart Centre hosted soup days, where staff would cook soup at home to sell at the smart centre. They also held a raffle, with local businesses joining in their support by donating prizes.

“I also kept a donation tin on my desk at work. People would come over and put in $10 or $20, which was great. The whole centre really got behind the fundraising,” Julie said.

“We initially had a goal of $3000 in mind, which is roughly the cost of a therapy chair. We ended up exceeding this, and raised a massive total of $5456.70!

“The hospital were so grateful and are going to use the extra funds for small comforts like magazines for patients undergoing treatment and their carers.

“It was wonderful to see everyone come together to raise this money in Cath’s honour, and I feel like it’s helped us all to heal as well.”