Suzanne's Story



If you want to hear a powerful story, just ask Suzanne how she came to be a nurse.


It was a long time ago, and she was on the threshold of her prime:


She had just been selected in the Australian Team to compete at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic

Games, and was just two days away from moving to Canberra to complete her training at the

Institute of Sport.


Swimming was her sport. Butterfly was her event.


Suzie O'Neill was her biggest threat, but Suzanne had bested her in her last race.

Suzanne was a whisker away from becoming 'Madame Butterfly'.


Then the tragic happened.

An horrific car crash left her totally smashed and fighting for her life.


You know the ones I mean:


They crash through the theatre doors with not just trauma, but trauma upon their trauma.

Multiple teams work with frantic trepidation for twelve hours, all the time wondering the unspoken wonder:


"How the hell is she going to get through this, if she ever does!"


Being supremely young, supremely fit and supremely healthy was what it took to get her shattered body through the trials Intensive Care, through the pain of seemingly never-ending follow-up operations and finally to the point of healing.


Her mind of amazing strength and tenacity was what it took to coax her soul through the pain and strain of prolonged hospitalisation and rehabilitation.


And awesome people around her accompanied and encouraged and normalised every achingly slow step along the way.


Her mum brought her a camera so that she could chronicle her journey and capture the spirit of those around her, and snap shots of smiling, surprised nurses full of humanity and compassion shine out from the pages of her album.


And so it was that she was exposed to something she had never envisaged before:


An industry where every day magic is expressed simply in the awesomely matter-of-fact act of



With that in mind, she found herself one of them, one of us:


A nurse.


The rest is history.


Her experiences in the hospital, the discipline learned from competing at an elite level and her undaunted and undaunt-able spirit combine to make seem possible in healthcare all that which we can only dream.


She makes things seem possible, if only we choose to be brave enough to try.


And whilst she may still dream that one day she would become Madame Butterfly,


to us she always will be,


not for the sake of a lap of a pool,


but for the sake of the her simply stunning contribution  

of inspiration and leadership to myself and everybody around her....


Which makes her her own Madame much more!




Below Ten Thousand

An international collaboration

Empowering clinicians in safety culture