Becky caring for cancer patients


R ADIATION therapist Becky Pais has learned to dealing with cancer patients throughout her career.
Her biggest problem however is that the country does not have a working machine to treat cancer patients who have no choice but to seek treatment overseas.
The Cobalt 60 radiation machine she has at the Angau Hospital cancer unit where she works has not been functioning for some time.
“One needs to have a tough skin to work here. Seeing patients dying because we could not help them (is heart-breaking). Not having specialists and equipment to work with is just too much.”
The 62-year-old mother of three daughters and two sons is the youngest in a family of five whose parents come from Manus and East Sepik. In 1977, she was accepted to work at the cancer unit in Angau under the resident radiation oncologist, the late Dr John Niblett.
After completing part of her training with the Applied Physics department at the University of Technology in 1979, she was sent to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney. But she had to return home early for personal reason.
Becky was mentored by Dr Niblett who saw the potential in her to become a qualified radiation therapist.
“During that time, people working at the cancer unit were Australians from the Royal Brisbane Hospital. I was the only local.”
In 1982 and 1983, Becky was sent to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. The Government around that time also started the Bachelor of Science and radiation therapy programme at the University of Technology.
Becky returned home in 1992 and became the senior radio technologist at the Angau cancer unit.
“I love my job and want to see positive results for all cancer patients treated here. When I see patients smiling when they leave their hospital beds, it keeps me going.
“Over the years, we have seen young women, mothers and others dying because we do not have the right people and equipment to treat them.
“Cancer is curable but it is now one of the main killer diseases. We need to address it fully in the country.”
She hopes more young people will qualify to become radiation technologists. Becky is also happy that the Government is more active in addressing cancer. She hopes a world standard cancer treatment facility will be set up here. Becky knows her retirement age is approaching but wants to see a new cancer facility built and functioning before she leaves.
Her youngest son is studying electronic engineering in the Philippines. She has her grandchildren at home to spend more time with when she quits.
“Once it is up and running and the trainees are confident in working here, I will hang up my gloves and go home.”