People in Private: Jo Silva

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Greenslopes Private Hospital nurse Jo Silva developed a ‘Lungs of Light’ display in Brisbane – around 300 solar lights arranged in the shape of a giant pair of lungs – as part of Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Jo came up with the idea after her 45-year-old husband died at the hospital in May 2017 following a six-year battle with the disease.

What do you love about your job and why?
I love my job because there is a lot of human interaction. Nursing is a job where you can not only provide your practical and physical skills, but also provide empathy, care, reassurance and comfort to someone.

Why did you become a nurse?
I originally studied nursing with the intention of being a midwife. But I fell in love with nursing itself while working on the wards during my training. I loved the diversity as I rotated through different areas during my course: from theatres, to emergency, to maternity and to various wards. Each area or ward always gave me something new to learn, and each shift also had different tasks and duties. I loved the idea that I would always be in a position to learn new things even when my course was finished and I would be in a job where no day (or even shift) is ever the same.

Do you have a favourite quote or phrase?
“Whisper words of wisdom – let it be” – The Beatles (Paul McCartney).

What is something about you your colleagues don’t know?
As a child I used to make friends with the elderly in our neighbourhood who had no family and were often from a non-English-speaking background. I would bring them to my house for Christmas lunch. One elderly lady was from Latvia. I used to visit her a lot and she used to tell me many stories about her life (most interesting was her long trip from Latvia to Australia on a boat). Another lady was always grumpy and never smiled, but I visited her anyway and she would give me butterscotch lollies in a tartan wrapper. Before having a family I spent the days leading up to Christmas and Christmas morning working in the Brisbane soup kitchen for the homeless with the Salvation Army. Since having kids, we all join together to prepare individual food hampers for our local families through our church.

How do your friends describe you?
Tenacious, passionate, talkative, happy and very silly when I’ve had too much chocolate and lollies!

What do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies?
Bushwalking, advocacy work for lung cancer and rare cancers, quality time with my children, enjoying nature and life in general, and writing.

What is something you want to achieve this year?
To climb Mount Kosciuszko for a cancer charity in March and then train to walk the Otago Railway in New Zealand for a cancer charity the following year. To keep life simple and give lots of love and time to my kids. And notice more sunsets.

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