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Remembering Roberta, the teacher who loved pink

McShane family

Heartfelt memories: Nick Thomas, Dot and Vince McShane, Will and Madonna Thomas think of their daughter, sister and aunt Roberta McShane next to her memorial plaque (in background) at Carmel College, Thornlands, where she worked; and (above) Roberta with the pink car she drove. Pink was her favourite colour.

EVERYTHING Roberta McShane owned was hot pink, even her car.

On April 4 last year, the Catholic school teacher asked her mum, Dot McShane, to bring the car to the hospital for one last spin around the block.

“That was the first time she said to me, ‘It’s time for me to go mum but I want to get the car one more time around the block’,” Mrs McShane said.

The cancer was running through her bones, riddling her body of its strength.

April 4 was the last time Mrs McShane saw her daughter.

“I stayed until midnight,” Mrs McShane said.

“I went home and about three hours later I got a call and she had died at 3am.”

It’s a date the family won’t forget easily. 

“That was Easter Sunday morning,” dad Vince McShane said.  

“That was our Easter for that year.”

Mr McShane was astounded by his daughter’s strength right to the end.

“The day before she died she was sitting there and her friends were getting teary and she said, ‘There will be no tears, no tears’,” Mr McShane said. 

“This was her speaking as though nothing was happening.  

“She was incredible at the end, all the others to see her like that couldn’t comprehend it,” he said.

Roberta’s boss, Carmel College, Thornlands principal Brian Eastaughffe, witnessed the devoted teacher’s strong will while visiting her in the hospital.

“She was very strong, no tears, still cheery,” Mr Eastaughffe said.

“She didn’t lose her wonderful nature.” 

In 2008, Roberta was diagnosed with breast cancer, and three months later, her mother also received a diagnosis.

It was a case their doctor had never seen before.

Both mother and daughter eventually went into remission.

“But she had that cough that she wouldn’t do anything about,” Mrs McShane said.

The second round of cancer was worse.

“She went to see the doctor and she had concealed cancer in the ribs, concealed cancer in the bones, but then it didn’t stay concealed for too long,” Mr McShane said.

Roberta died on April 5, 2015, aged 44. 

Her death was and still is a shock to everyone at Carmel College.

“It was her life,” Mrs McShane said.

On May 18 this year, the McShane family travelled to Carmel College to attend the unveiling of a plaque in honour of their daughter and dedicated teacher.

Her plaque is among several other staff members who have died, and faces a bed of pink roses, planted in Roberta’s honour.

“Today is a very special day – it’s an honour for her,” Mrs McShane said.

As for the hot pink car, it’s still part of the family.  

“It’s up in Rockhampton now with her other sister,” she said.

“It was very hard to part with that car.  

“I used to love looking out the door every morning. Now it’s not there.  

“That’s the journey I’ve got to take.”

By Emilie Ng

Catholic Church Insurance

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