‘Look out for my babies’: Mum’s last heart-rending appeal
LAWYER, advocate, mum and an "absolute lady", Melissa Nielsen penned a heart-rending note to friends and family upon her terminal diagnosis less than one month ago.
A partner at Miller Harris Lawyers since 2013, Ms Nielsen received the devastating news last month and died on June 10.
After her diagnosis, Ms Nielsen reflected on her life and appealed to friends and family to watch over her children, Harrison, 10, Jasmine, 8, and Edison, 4.
"I have lived a very blessed life; I married the man of my dreams (Roger 'Rudy' Nielsen), have three vivacious, gorgeous children, a purposeful career and have the best friends and family a girl could ask for," Ms Nielsen wrote.
"I have every faith in the village I have created for my children. Please look out for my babies and keep them in your village. Be sure to talk about their mum often. Let them know I lived life to the fullest and had fun wherever I went."
Friend and former chairman of Advance Cairns, Trent Twomey, said Ms Nielsen was "a lady in the truest sense of the word".
"She was proficient in her trade and she gave back to the community," Mr Twomey said.
"Our kids went to the same school for kindy, she was a local and she just wanted to give back."
Ms Nielsen grew up in Miriwinni, graduated from Babinda State School, and studied law at JCU in Townsville.
She worked at Miller Harris for 15 years and became a partner of the firm in 2013.
Ms Nielsen was accepted to the board of Advance Cairns in 2016.
She was a passionate advocate for maternal health and was tireless in raising money for the charity Send Hope Not Flowers.
President of the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, Sally Mlikota, knew Ms Nielsen as a business associate and described her as "professional, friendly and thoughtful".
"As a mum herself, she became passionate about the plight of new mothers in PNG, and was a strong advocate for the Send Hope Not Flowers charity, and was well known for running an excellent annual fundraiser, which attracted a large corporate crowd," Ms Mlikota said.
"My memory of Melissa is someone who enjoyed life, was passionate and very genuine. Her Miller Harris family will be hurting, as will everyone else in her close-knit family.
"On behalf of the chamber, we are very sad to see such a vibrant and ambitious young professional taken too soon."
Her aunt, Linda Huey, said Ms Nielsen was "the life of the party".
"She had so many friends, so many work colleagues, everybody loved her," Ms Huey said. "She was such a happy, vibrant person, she had friends everywhere she went."
Ms Nielsen was also passionate about her children's education and was deeply involved at St Joseph's School.
Principal Gavin Rick said Ms Nielsen was "a champion for our school".
"There are no words to convey the pain and loss to her family," Mr Rick said.
"In my last conversation with Melissa, we spoke of each of the children. She was able to express her desires for them all and their need for support during this most difficult of times.
"Her love for her family shone through."
A spokeswoman for Send Hope Not Flowers described Ms Nielsen as "one of (our) most hardworking fundraisers."
Mourners have been encouraged to donate to the charity at https://www.sendhope.org.
"Friends and family can choose to honour her memory by making a donation to our maternal health programs, so that another mother can enjoy a safe birth somewhere in the world," the spokeswoman said.
"We hope to use these donations to fund a meaningful tribute to Melissa in the coming months, in consultation with her family. She will be missed deeply by so many."
Rowan Wilson of Miller Harris has launched a campaign in Ms Nielsen's honour to fund an annual scholarship for a female Year 12 student at Babinda State High School.
Originally published as 'Look out for my babies': Mum's last heart-rending appeal