Meet Nonga from Tonga

27 Mar 2023

My name is Nonga Fangupo 

I was born in Tonga and moved to Australia when I was one. I'm the youngest of five siblings. My family and friends describe me as a joyful person, as I always try to be positive in my nature and demeanor. 

I’m a radiation therapist at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, which means I treat patients with cancer using radiation therapy. The radiation oncology department is a great nurturing environment. The team always want what’s best for their patients and ensures they get the best care possible.   

What sets Chris O’Brien Lifehouse apart is having everything in one centre. We focus on the whole patient instead of focusing only on the disease. So not only do we do radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery, but we also have a number of available support services, such as Arterie(an art program), acupuncture, massage therapy, music therapy, mindfulness; the list goes on.  

These unique services help each patient feel as comfortable as possible in an obviously uncomfortable situation.  

If I can see a patient feeling nervous, I reassure them not to worry; they're surrounded by people who want to help them.  

It’s not always easy picking up when someone is having an off day. Some people are really good at hiding their emotions. That’s why it's important for me to get to know each patient and build a relationship, so they feel comfortable with me. This makes it easier to notice any changes in their behavior. I can only do so much in my short time with them, but in those few minutes, I can usually tell if they're not feeling okay, so I can ask questions and then contact whoever it is to help them with whatever it may be. 

As radiation therapists, we see a lot of difficult things and a lot of sadness. We do our best to avoid it effect us personally. But there was one patient I got close to, and we became good friends through treatment and talking. Unfortunately, he passed away; we were devastated. It affected our whole team, but it was also special to remind me that we hadn't lost our humanity. We really care for our patients as people and as a unit.   

Radiation Machine

We have so many people around who will give our patients the support they need. We can provide it to them medically, psychologically, or holistically. We are here for them. I know it's hard, but they're in good hands.

Our donors have made countless things possible. Everything they have given doesn’t go to waste. All the donations are used to improve treatment and make our patients’ journey smoother, no matter how challenging.  

It gives hope to the patients that need it the most. From my point of view, hope is the belief that your journey can still be filled with happiness despite what the endpoint may be.  

Your days can still be good. The days that you have remaining on Earth will still be positive, will still be filled with happiness, and you will still be able to fulfill your dreams.  

If you see Nonga around Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, feel free to say hi!

If you would like to support more staff like Nonga provide the best patient-centered care, you can donate here.