Tony McMahon - Our Unsung Hero
Tony is our modest hero who has been fundamental in helping the Leukaemia Foundation in Victoria to establish its transport service that today provides free transport for more than 100 patients a week and now has 82 volunteer drivers. He is one of our longest standing volunteers and has been with the organisation almost from its inception. Tony has dedicated thousands of hours to the Foundation - a cause that he feels passionate about. He has made a real difference not only to the Foundation but more importantly to the lives of countless patients with blood cancers.
After a close friend’s son died of Leukaemia in 1999, Tony’s attention was drawn to an advertisement in a newspaper seeking volunteer drivers to transport leukaemia patients to and from hospital appointments. He would pick up patients from their homes and drive them to their treatment centre, then be waiting with a friendly face and gentle manner to drive them safely home again following a day filled with investigations, appointments and intensive treatment regimes. Exhaustion! During these challenging weeks and months friendships and trust develops between patient and driver.
The devastating and confronting reality is that a large percentage of our patients experience disease relapse following treatment, or die from treatment side effects. Tony, in his role as volunteer driver has often been the sounding board for patients as they describe the ongoing daily battle to survive treatment and debilitating side-effects all wrapped up in a mosaic of frustration, grief and concern for loved ones.
Patients attending treatment for the first time are often emotional, frightened and anxious. Tony’s calm demeanour has been a great help to patients as he accompanies them through the maze of confusing corridors and departments to arrive at the right treatment unit on time. Tony possesses an innate sense of compassion for people.
When Tony first started at the Leukaemia Foundation office it was in its infancy and there were very few employed staff. Tony took on the challenge of helping to co-ordinate the transport service. Tony faced the initial teething problems of setting up a new service yet persisted to overcome obstacles to ensure the transport programme was an efficient and supportive service for the Leukaemia Foundation.
For the past 18 months, Tony has been an integral team member of the transport service, not only driving but coordinating in excess of 80 drivers and managing the patient transport booking system. Tony brings to these roles excellent interpersonal skills. He has the ability to manage challenging situations with professionalism and courtesy. A classic example is, if patient demand exceeds drivers available, Tony will volunteer even more time to drive them himself! He has also proved to be a valuable mentor to our new drivers joining the Foundation.
Over the 6 years Tony has been a volunteer, he has also helped the Leukaemia Foundation in countless other ways. There seems to be no end to his talents, from public speaking at event launches, to arranging defensive driving courses to editing the monthly volunteer newsletter. Tony continues to be an amazing asset to our organisation. Tony together with his wife Bev (who became a volunteer herself 4 years ago) have also managed the entire office whist the staff have been on-site at major events. Now that’s outstanding commitment!
Personal satisfaction gained from helping people is the primary motivation behind the thousands of voluntary hours Tony had donated to the Foundation. He believes in the Vision and Mission of the Foundation and we are privileged to have a hero like Tony dedicated to helping our patients and their families. In life there are no guarantees, we should all make every moment count. Tony unselfishly cares for people in crisis, he makes every moment count. Thankyou Tony!