Melanie honoured for transforming lives through healthcare
In the year she graduated from Avondale, Melanie Windus (BNurs, 1993) remembers receiving the news. ”You have cancer. The only treatment is to remove it. If you have faith in something, now is when you need it. We hope this will give you 10 years.” This visit to the doctor changed her outlook and her priorities.
“In the morning, throughout the day and in the evening, I feel and express gratitude for the good things in my life. And I treat others as I want to be treated—with thoughtfulness, patience and respect.”
These attributes have served Melanie well in her more than 30 years at Sydney Adventist Hospital and now at Sanitarium’s workplace health service, Vitality Works. “I have always wanted to help people.” She has worked in diverse roles as an educator, manager (informed by a master’s degree in leadership and management from Avondale in 2013) and, notably, health care outreach coordinator. But it is her commitment to a lifesaving service project that probably defines her career.
Open Heart International provides the opportunity for those living in developing countries to receive cardiac surgical services. As coordinator, Melanie has led 24 trips to Fiji and two to Vanuatu—many of them during her annual leave. One reward, she says, is seeing staff members in local hospitals become more confident in the care they provide cardiac patients. But the greatest: seeing children and adults who could not walk or run do so almost immediately after surgery.
Melanie’s cancer diagnosis came six weeks before her marriage to Mark and, not wanting to leave him as a single parent, “I was not going to have children.” Son Mason (nursing) and daughter Mia (teaching) are now students at Avondale. Even as toddlers, they joined Melanie on the open heart trips. “My parents were an example of when you serve others you include the whole family, no matter your age.” Because roll models and mentors are important, Melanie challenges alum of Avondale to “help the next generation develop personally and professionally.”
Avondale Alumni honours Melanie Windus as its Alumna of the Year for dedicating her working and serving life to the transformation of lives through healthcare.
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