HSC: Lucy rebuilds shattered dreams after ATAR rollercoaster
THIS time last year, Lucy Bindon was on top of the world.
Her "magic number" ATAR of 99.1, and acceptance into her first choice of university course, meant she could study medicine at the University of NSW.
But within two weeks of starting her degree her life had changed so dramatically she vowed never to set foot in a hospital again.
After graduating from McAuley Catholic College, Ms Bindon moved to Sydney last February and began her six-year journey to become a doctor.
Two weeks later, after visiting a cousin's house not feeling well, she was whisked to St Vincent's hospital, and placed in an induced coma, diagnosed with meningococcal septicaemia, or blood poisoning.
She woke up seven days later, and spent another 17 nights in hospital.
"It wasn't exactly in my life plan," she said.
Ms Bindon said she was incredibly lucky as the disease has a 15% casualty rate and many people have limbs amputated as a result.
For her treatment she was put into a coma so medicines would be able to fight it along with other secondary illnesses.
"Obviously I couldn't return to my degree, because medicine is a course you have to pass each exam to progress and I wasn't in a position to sit, let alone pass the exams," she said.
Ms Bindon moved home with her parents for a month, before travelling to New Zealand to stay with family.
"I jumped out of a plane, bungee jumped, did some other crazy things. I was kind of shell shocked, still in denial about what happened, so I just started embracing life again," she said.
"I went through a stage when I was overseas, that I was so anti-medicine and anti-hospital, numerous times I said I'm never setting foot in a hospital again."
On her return to Australia though, and with the help of the Faculty of Medicine at UNSW to re-enrol for two elective subjects in the second semester, her path back to her long-held medicine career became clear again.
"I got back to uni and talked to other students and it got me rethinking, and I realised I understood the course more than I did this time last year," she said.
"I didn't really have much of an idea last year of what it was going to be like, but now I had a clearer idea I knew this is where my interest lies and this is what I want to do."
Ms Bindon said she also had encouragement from the myriad doctors she encountered during her stay.
"When I was in hospital, every doctor I spoke to told me I'd make a great doctor because I have this understanding of what people are going through," she said.
"Now I have a drive that I want to be able to give back, I want to be able to help people like they helped me.
"I feel like I've grown up and I've learnt so much since last year."
Ms Bindon said her parents had been a great support through the year, as well as friend Laura Johnson, who she went to university with.
"She has been incredible over the last year, we've stayed very close friends," she said.
Ms Bindon will return to Sydney this year to restart her six-year degree, and reflected on how much that ATAR number had meant a year ago, and now.
"You get so caught up in it at the time, that number was just stuck in my head.
"Now the number that's there is 12/3, the day I was woken up and my life began again.
"I think as long as you're happy and are getting by, it's much more important than that number that seems to define you.
"Your ATAR really doesn't define you because life is so unpredictable. You can never know what life will throw at you."