Tracey bids farewell
Lions Senior Medical Research Fellow 2011-2018, Perinatal Research Centre, UQ Centre for Clinical Research, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, The University of Queensland.
Of all the things I have been asked to write across the years as a LMRF Research Fellow, this I think is perhaps the hardest. Not just because it marks the end of an era and my time as a LMRF Research Fellow but because I have a shocking memory! Recalling all of the wonderful places I have visited and all the great Lions I have met is a very tall order, but how incredibly lucky I am to have done so!
So where to start? Well at the beginning I guess is as good a place as any! I remember exactly where I was (in the coffee shop – we all need a morning coffee!) the day I got the call from Ms Irene Dunning in 2011 to tell me that my application had been successful. Securing any kind of research funding is a really big deal and this was such a fantastic call to receive! It’s a hard slog being a researcher because funds are always so tight, we survive solely on grants – no grant = no salary = no research. I didn’t realize it then but what started as a 3 year award to support my research turned into something so much more.
I have always been very keen to share my research with the Lions community. I’m not sure it was a requirement when I started, but it certainly is now and in my view so important to give back. Keeping the passion alive in research is a really fundamental part of staying motivated in such a tough environment. Sharing it with others helps to keep stoking that fire in the belly. Talking with other scientists and colleagues is good but nothing compares to talking to people in the community. I’ve lost count now of how many Lions events and district conferences I have gone to, but there a few that stick in my mind and I wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything in the world! The 201Q2 District Convention in Proserpine in 2014. My first convention and I don’t think either I or any of the Lions knew what to expect! A few sceptics among the crowd, ‘Where does my money go when we send it off to the foundation? Right here I said, me, this is what you get! And I’m not too bad I reckon, think I’m worth the money!!’ Well if my career in research failed at least I might have a chance as a comedian?….And so started a wonderful few days in North Queensland and the beginning of many friendships. The following year saw me in Ubobo for the 201Q4 District Convention.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it!) I was forgotten at Gladstone airport for several hours. All was forgiven though when the challenge was put up for an impromptu fundraiser that weekend. If I recall, the bet was made that if a certain target was met, a very generous Lion would allow me to shave off all his hair – something I believe hadn’t happened in many years (the haircut not the fundraising!). A hairdresser I am not, so apologies for the ‘do’ I hope it has all grown back!! This event also stuck with me for another reason. We heard from a man who told us about having had a stroke, an event that changed his life forever and that of his family. This is not my area of research but the reminder of how we all make a difference was profound – it also cemented in my mind though just how much more we need and can do in research and in patient and family support.
The personality quest has always been a huge part of the LMRF and also was a fantastic part of my time as a fellow. It was great to be involved with entrants coming to the annual hospital visit at the Perinatal Research Centre, but also on the journey to the big night when all the hard work of the quest came to fruition. Apart from the fact that this was the major fundraiser for the year for the LMRF, the best thing about this event was watching the personal growth of the entrants. Every event, every person that I met and spoke to, I always came away humbled but with a renewed sense of energy and purpose.
At the risk of forgetting any one of the many wonderful people I have met across the years (and to those I have yet to meet!), I will do a big shout out and thank-you to all of you. It has been my absolute honour to serve as a LMRF Research Fellow over the past 7 years and an enormous privilege to meet so many of you. And to the questions of “where are you going?” Well you can’t get rid of me that easily! Although my fellowship period has ended my research certainly has not. The LMRF fellowship came at a time in my research life that helped me to firmly establish my career as a researcher in perinatal medicine. It has helped me to build a fantastic team whose mission is to help those babies who need it most, so we intend to be around for a while!
I look forward to many more years of friendship with the LMRF and the Lions community. If you are ever in Brisbane please be sure to pop by for a coffee, you are always most welcome to visit the lab to see just what a difference your efforts make! We’re not a bad bunch either!