"I'M a person who feels like I've got a lot to give and a lot to do," says Melanie Lane, the Kerang co-ordinator of Mallee District Aboriginal Services, explaining how she came to be back at work just seven months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Her journey with the disease - which she contracted despite having never been a smoker - was "very up and down", but seven years later Mrs Lane is clear of cancer and conquering new challenges.
On Tuesday the Yorta Yorta woman graduated from a two-year course to qualify as an Aboriginal health practitioner – one of only 40 around Victoria - and gave a speech at the Melbourne Town Hall on behalf of all 62 students who had completed courses through the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation.
Also on stage at the ceremony, which was broadcast live on Melbourne radio station 3KND – Kool 'N' Deadly - was official guest speaker, Senator Pat Dodson.
Despite being scared of speaking in front of such a big crowd, Mrs Lane "got up there and just talked." Later, when she listened to the video of the speech her husband recorded, she came to the conclusion that "It wasn't too bad!"
Completing the course - a Certificate IV in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practice - was a big achievement for the mother of four, particularly because it required her to spend one week every month in Melbourne.
As a health worker at MDAS for eight years, Mrs Lane has a lot of experience performing health checks and providing care, including for patients with chronic diseases such as cancer.
Mrs Lane is also a MDAS board member.