Dying at 14 gave chemist new life
WATCHING 29-year-old pharmacist Amy Hayhurst playfully tease her customers and flitter about the Crofton St Pharmacy, it's hard to imagine this young woman had ADHD, dropped out of school in Year 9 and died on her 14th birthday.
But it's knowing about these events in her earlier life that makes Miss Hayhurst becoming a registered pharmacist one month ago that extra bit special.
Diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Year 2, unlike most young kids her age, Miss Hayhurst was raised on a strict diet control program to manage the disorder, which meant no foods with colouring or flavouring.
"It made schooling quite difficult," she said.
The daughter of two missionaries, Miss Hayhurst began distance education when she was 12, shortly after her parents were given the opportunity to work in Papua New Guinea.
"I contracted malaria and Hepatitis A, both at the same time, when I was over there," she said.
"I passed away on my 14th birthday (due to the disease).
"Thanks to the quick-thinking actions of my dad, I got shocked back."
The Hayhurst family returned to Australia after three years in PNG, where Miss Hayhurst began Year 9 at Bundaberg Christian College.
"I was quite sick so I didn't do much study," she said.
"And oh God, I hated school - I'm not academic."
So, at just 15, Miss Hayhurst decided to leave school and began working casual jobs in retail and also at a seedling nursery, before enrolling into an introduction to pharmacy course at TAFE when she turned 16.
"I then got offered a job at Terry White Chemist and I did my front shop certificates and I later went on to do my dispensary assistant course," she said.
Despite academia admittedly not being one of her strongest traits, Miss Hayhurst said she still found herself wanting to become a qualified pharmacist.
"I did a medical science degree in Rockhampton, and then I went on to do my Masters of Pharmacy in Newcastle," she said.
"(Studying) was really difficult - I had to work really hard."
After returning home from Newcastle, Miss Hayhurst faced another set back after breaking up with her partner of nine years, and leaving a job with a Bundaberg pharmacy.
"It hadn't been the right spot for me," she said.
"I was worn out so I stayed home for two months to think about what I was going to do.
"I knew I still wanted to do pharmacy - I knew I loved it and I knew I loved the work."
A position then became vacant at Crofton St Pharmacy, and Miss Hayhurst said she was thrilled to be offered the position under the guidance of pharmacist, Campbell Gradon.
"He's been a very good guide," she said.
With her pharmacy registration now added to her long list of achievements, Miss Hayhurst said she was proud of how far she had come.
"Life, right now, is awesome," she said.