Issue 4 - 7 May 2013 enews home

Battle with cancer prompts hobby farmer to study nursing

By Patrick Nelson

Annelene Paxton: “When I saw ... how much of a positive difference nurses made, I decided to become one”

A Charles Darwin University student, who has overcome cancer, is about to complete her nursing degree with Charles Darwin University.

Annelene Paxton recently took temporary leave from her hobby farm in country Victoria to undertake a three-month placement at Royal Darwin Hospital.

“I’ve worked in the trauma and burns unit and the hospice and will spend two weeks each in the psycho-geriatric and aged care areas,” Mrs Paxton said.

“It has been a hard road with two teenagers, work and study, but in a few weeks I’ll be a registered nurse. It’s very exciting and a huge relief.”

Mrs Paxton said she decided to take up nursing while a patient undergoing treatment for squamous carcinoma (skin cancer of the nose).

“I’ve always had a passion for people, but when I saw how much of a positive difference that nurses made, I decided to become one.”

Mrs Paxton said the 18 weeks of chemotherapy and subsequent loss of hair had been traumatic, but she had survived with the help of friends, her children and a one-day-at-a-time attitude.

“I’m a happy-go-lucky person by nature and I was able to remain very positive throughout,” she said.

Mrs Paxton completed her second week-long clinical intensive at Alice Springs campus and will return to her job at the aged-care facility in Drouin, east of Melbourne, after completing the placement.

“It’s a great job and I love going to work every day,” she said.

South African by birth, Mrs Paxton had lived in the UK and US before settling in Victoria in 1998.

She shares a 4 ha hobby farm with her husband John, their two teens, horses, goats, pigs, peacocks, frogs, an alpaca and an assortment of reptiles.

“It’s quite a menagerie, but it suits us. We’re a family of animal lovers.”