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Scholarship and mural part of Sharon’s legacy

Video: Paul Donaldson

A vibrant mural featuring butterflies, flowers and the words “make each day count” is part of a beautiful tribute to former patient of the Bundaberg Cancer Care Unit, Sharon Benson.

The mural was today unveiled to Sharon's family and friends and coincided with the announcement of her legacy, the Sharon Benson Scholarship.

Sharon spent five long years battling Stage 4 bowel cancer and was a huge inspiration to the team at the Bundaberg Cancer Care unit.

Manager of the Bundaberg Health Services Foundation Anne McWhirter said it was Sharon’s intention to give something back to the staff, in acknowledgement of the care she received year after year.

“The scholarship is here to support the staff because she really wanted to give back,” Anne said.

“It was initiated by Col and Sue Benson in memory of their daughter and is a lasting reminder of her indomitable spirit.”

Anne said the scholarship would be available annually to nursing staff currently employed in Cancer Care at Bundaberg Hospital, specifically those undertaking continued studies within their Oncology professions.

“The family believes that by supporting applicants with Professional Development opportunities, those staff will then provide even better care to patients,” Anne said.

Sharon legacy
Wendy Johnston, Anne McWhirter, Col and Sue Benson at the Bundaberg Cancer Care Unit.

Sharon's motto etched into mosaic artwork

Sharon's parents also commissioned a stunning mosaic as a tribute to their daughter that now greets patients in the Bundaberg Cancer Care facility.

Created by local artist Paul Perry, the vibrant creation of colour, butterflies and flowers is titled “Make Each Day Count.”

It is a fitting tribute to Sharon, according to long-time friend Wendy Johnston, who said the motto was what she lived by.

Wendy said right from the start, Sharon's journey with cancer was ever-optimistic and filled with courage and determination.

“Her motto of ‘make each day count' was absolutely evident right through to her final days,” she said.

“She never looked at herself as a victim and was always encouraging towards other patients she encountered at the Cancer Care Facility.”

Wendy said Sharon was a very bright, bubbly, friendly and outgoing personality who got along with everyone she met.

Sharon legacy
Artist Paul Perry and Wendy Johnston at the Bundaberg Cancer Care Unit.

“She was always up for a challenge and always there when you needed her,” she said.

“She absolutely held her own with everything she did.

“Put it this way, I would never go into a drinking competition with her because I know she would win!” she laughed.

Local artist Paul Perry said creating the mural was a very special project for him and Sharon's family.

“We incorporated some of Sharon's favourite flowers, including sun flowers as well as four butterflies that depict the four children in her family,” he said.

The mosaic is now hanging at the Cancer Care unit to provide inspiration and joy to all patients and their families.

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