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Passion leads the way

Nesreen Mussa’s passion for caring for others begun when she was a girl growing up in Eritrea, eastern Africa, with her six siblings.

“My mother taught us that even if you don’t have much, you should always appreciate what you have,” explains Nesreen. “As a widow she cared for all seven of us by herself and we migrated from war-torn Eritrea to Australia when I was a teenager.”

“Having a dedicated and resilient mother as a role model is where I got my compassion and commitment to helping others.”


Nesreen is the Nurse Unit Manager (NUM) of 5FS, an oncology and acute care of the elderly ward, at Frankston Hospital.

After spending the first four years of her career as an emergency nurse, she moved into her first leadership role managing a small medical ward.

“I was a very young NUM, but I had a lot of mentors who supported me to develop my management skills,” says Nesreen.

The cancer services provided on ward 5FS have increased exponentially under the leadership of Nesreen and Head of Oncology, Dr Zee Wan Wong.

“Four years ago we had far fewer cancer treatments – now we can provide hundreds, which is fantastic, as more patients can have treatment here rather than travelling to the city,” says Nesreen.

“This expansion would not have been possible without the support of the 5FS team, many of whom have completed further study to specialise in oncology nursing.”


A cancer diagnosis doesn’t just affect the person – it affects everyone around them, which is why Nesreen and her team strive to provide holistic care for the person involved, their family and friends.

“In cancer care you have to have a heart and you always have to go above and beyond for the patient and everyone around them,” explains Nesreen.

When a terminally ill mother asked to see her son, who was also at the end of his life at a hospital in the city, Nesreen sprang into action.

“I arranged for her son to be transferred to Frankston for a few hours so they could say their last goodbyes,” recalls Nesreen.

“The mother was unconscious, but she opened her eyes when she heard his voice.

Two days later she passed away – it was a privilege to be able to grant her last wish.”


Outside of work Nesreen lives locally with her husband and two daughters, aged 8 and 5. She enjoys going to the beach with her kids and running to relax.

“I have a very supportive husband and family, which enables me to give back to the community and this position.”

Nesreen loves what she does – which is what drives her to balance having a family with a challenging role – where some patients get better and others spend the final days of their life in her care.

“I’m lucky to work with committed people who still can smile and laugh when it gets really hard, because it is a rewarding career that changes your appreciation of life.”


Donations from the Dry July Foundation and CommBank have funded wellbeing initiatives on ward 5FS, such as a free TV service and massage therapy.

“It’s beautiful because people say ‘yes’ I have a diagnosis of cancer, but this makes me feel normal for 10 minutes,” explains Nesreen.

You can help cancer patients access the best of care, close to home by getting together with your friends for an afternoon tea, BBQ or coffee morning to Take a Break for Cancer this winter.

Last year, Take a Break For Cancer raised $25,000 for local cancer services.

For more information head to www.peninsulahealth.org.au/takeabreak

Nesreen with 5FS patient Peter.