This is going to be a blog about research and cancer, but I wanted to set the scene with a little insight into my workplace. Cancer can make people think about questions of life and spirituality.

Today I was talking with two people who both lost their spouses to cancer a few years ago. Both had been treated at St Vincent’s Hospital, where I work. These people commented that it’s a special hospital. The staff really care, and there’s a spiritual dimension which really made a difference.

The hospital was founded by the Sisters of Charity to serve the poor of Melbourne. It still looks out for the poor and disadvantaged, including patients of modest means. It makes an effort to reach out to the homeless, the outcasts and the mentally ill. It also provides excellent care, being a teaching hospital and part of the University of Melbourne and the Australian Catholic University, and excelling in many areas of clinical research.

One thing I like about working at St Vincent’s is “Five Minutes on Friday” a weekly inspirational message from the Director of Mission. I thought I should share part of this week’s timely offering from Lisa McDonald.

“One of the curious quirks of having a job with the word ‘Mission’ in the title is that it is not unusual for people to expect you would have such things as:

1. A reasonable knowledge of Catholic heritage

2. The capacity to quote a scripture or two… or three

3. The phone number of the Sister’s convent on speed dial

and, here’s a curious one… a favourite Church season!

Highly convenient of me to have mentioned it because (aside from Christmas obviously), we’re about to start mine. Pentecost…. “

Which is a weekly reminder that the people we are trying to help, whether they have a faith or not, are more than just flesh and blood.

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