Joy fights brave cancer battle
By SALLY GORDON
JOY Mathews has spent two-and-a-half years fighting the deadly grip of cancer, but a conversation with this feisty woman is no downer; it's a spirited and uplifting experience.
The Clarence Valley councillor had just finished four chemotherapy treatments in the span of a week to treat her growing brain tumor.
"I tolerated it, no problem at all," she says.
"I'm feeling really quite good considering ... I keep believing that if I stay positive, it will have a good effect.
"I don't want it to get me."
The outcome of the recent dose of chemo won't be known until after April.
Until then, the Maclean-based councillor and woman of substance is ensuring she maintains a positive outlook in the face of her toughest personal battle.
Cr Mathews says the most recent scan result was not as good as it could have been.
Despite this, the former nurse is sure to greet whatever the future brings with the same infallible strength and courage she's displayed during the past few years.
In December of 2003, the day before her birthday, Cr Mathews was diagnosed with cancer.
The road traversed since that day has been punctuated by radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments, endless oncology appointments and assessments.
"Initially, it was brain surgery. That was frightening; I used to work in those sort of theatres when I was nursing," Cr Mathews said.
"Then we went straight on to chemo and radiotherapy, flitting between here and John Flynn Hospital -it was all a bit disturbing, but I still had council, which was great."
Cr Mathews is passionate about local government. She is a self-proclaimed, free-thinking independent politician, who topped the polls at three local government elections.
She was the first female mayor in the Clarence Valley and is renowned for having the community's best interests always at heart.
"I've done very well in local government elections and it shows I can reach out to people in the area. They know who I am and they know what I do," she says.
"That's been my strength. I understand what the issues are and I go in to bat for them.
"It's part of my natural inclination to help people."
Politics has played a significant part in Cr Mathews' life.
It was only six years ago that the councillor cut ties with the Australian Labor Party.
She says it was the party's lack of support for the Kyoto Protocol that sounded the death knell for her 18-year-long Labor affiliation.
Cr Mathews' split from Labor was a 'good, clean divorce', which she says meant she was free to make decisions outside of party lines.
This year will mark Cr Mathews' 15th and final year in local government. She has decided not to run for council again.
On her mind at the moment however, is staying mentally and physically strong for her daughter Sally Mathews' imminent April wedding.
Sally and her brother Angus currently are staying with Joy and her husband, Dr Robin Mathews.
But it's not only Cr Mathews' immediate family who are rallying around the popular councillor. Many members of the community she helped now are there by her side as well.