Coast graduate sends heartfelt message to mother
"ALL that I am or hope to be, I owe to my mother."
Those were the words etched into the top of Fraser Coast university student Glenda Sutcliffe's trencher.
The recent University of the Sunshine Coast Nursing Science graduate's cap honoured her late mother.
"My father died when I was young, so my mother was my mother, my father, my best friend. She was my everything and I wanted to make her part of my day," Ms Sutcliffe explained. She also wore one of her mother's dresses to the graduation.
"They say your loved ones watch over you when they die, and I thought if she is looking down on me, she is going to see this message and be proud of me," she said.
Ms Sutcliffe's mother died suddenly from flesh-eating bacteria necrotising fasciitis eight years ago when Ms Sutcliffe was in her early 20s.
"On my first day of university, a few years after she passed, I wrote that quote in my book and decided when I graduated, I would find a way to use it to honour her," she said.
After working a variety of jobs, including farmhand and hairdresser, the Hervey Bay resident said her mother's death was the catalyst to enrol in a nursing degree, which she completed while working as an Assistant in Nursing at Queensland Health.
In a twist of fate, her first lecture was being conducted by April Martin, one of the nurses who cared for her mother in intensive care at the Hervey Bay Hospital.
She praised the lecturer for helping her deal with unresolved issues surrounding her mother's death. In a poignant touch, Ms Martin gifted Ms Sutcliffe the trencher cap from her own graduation so Ms Sutcliffe could adapt it with the tribute to her mother.
After previously battling cancer twice, Ms Sutcliffe suffered another health setback during her studies.
"I survived many health complications when I was a child and was diagnosed with another cancer just a few months after losing my mother," Glenda said.
Due to further illness, she had to take almost a year off her studies for surgery, treatment and recovery purposes.
Earlier this year, she postponed further treatment so she could complete the final placements required for the Nursing science degree.
"It took a whole lot of strength, determination, resilience and grit, as well as a great support network, to finally complete my degree," Ms Sutcliffe said.
"However, if it wasn't for my life experiences … I wouldn't be who I am today," she said.
"(I) will use all of my life experiences, time and energy to care and fight for others. I am here for a reason - nursing is my purpose."
Ms Sutcliffe plans to undertake a research project aimed at improving communication and support for the families of critically-ill patients as part of an honours program next year.