‘They (Department of Education) told me in later years I wasn’t to hug the children and I said, “Well, it will be a long day before I can’t hug somebody.”
‘I can’t stop children from coming up and hugging me. I said that I won’t stop hugging them. I never did.
‘You know all children, doesn’t matter which ones they are, they all need love. You have to give it to receive it. I doesn’t matter how much their mums and dads love them, you can always give them a little bit more because everybody needs love and you can always do with a little bit extra of that.
‘Children are so hungry to be loved. That’s all most of them wanted – to be understood and loved. Because that’s the real main thing in life. Nobody listens much you know – they talk but a lot of people don’t listen to you, you know?’
‘Two weeks ago I went back to the doctor and they said they’re not going to treat me anymore. They said I’d had enough radiology and enough chemotherapy and I still had it so I don’t know…
‘I feel quite active though. My lungs are good and my kidneys are OK. And I really don’t feel like it you know – to be saying goodbye just yet.
‘I was Preschool Cook at Australia Street Infants School in Newtown. I started off in 1973 only for a week or two while I filled in for someone. At the end of the next week, the Principal came down and said I can have the job. So I stayed there as Preschool Cook for 39 and a half years. In that time, I cooked over 7,000 meals for the children and I cuddled them every day.
‘I was made redundant in Xmas in 2012 – it was really stressful. Not long after that I was diagnosed with cancer.
‘They reckon I might last until Christmas but that’s about all. And that was a “might”. They said it depends on how much it grows and how much I deteriorate. Last week was pretty tough because I really don’t want to say goodbye just yet. I find it very hard.
‘I still get kids and adults coming up to me in the street. It feels very good. It’s hard to remember them because they change so much from when they’re little but they come up and say, “Miss Fay, I gotta give you a hug!” and that feels very good.
‘I don’t expect anything in return because you do what you have to do. I was working and everything and I did it all for the kids. I just loved them so much.’
‘The GP said I had a 50% chance of survival when I got the prognosis. I asked her what that meant because no one survives life. Everyone’s got 100% chance of dying so what does a 50% chance mean? And she said 50% chance of surviving the next year.
‘If it wasn’t for new forms of treatment apparently I would have died. I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of advanced breast cancer four years ago and according to my oncologist I’m still in the critical phase for another year.
‘I don’t take my life for granted. I think I’ve been lucky to have been given these four years and I don’t know how much longer I have.
‘I watched a documentary once and they interviewed a funeral director. She said that regardless of the religion, a good life has had three things – compassion, love and gratitude. I wrote those three things in black texta on my mirror and I looked at it every day. The gratitude one is something that I really hold close to my heart. You try and see the good in everything.
‘What I’m grateful for is that I live more in the moment and appreciate the day. If you’ve only got a year left, you’ve really got to make the most of that year. That doesn’t make me different to anyone else. Everyone should and could live their lives that way but it’s just sort of being brought home to me more because it’s a reality.’
What’s one of the saddest moments in your life?
‘That would be when my father died. I was 11 years old and he had cancer for basically all of my life. I guess I’m still kind of coping with it a bit.’
Are there any words he shared with you that really stick in your mind as advice that you’ve taken on for life?
‘Once when I asked about what the meaning of life was, he said, “People have wasted their lives trying to answer that’. That’s a decent philosophy I think.’
So what would be your main philosophy in life?
‘I try to be happy regardless of what people say or do. Happiness is a choice. If you accept yourself then you will find happiness.’