If not for Brisbane’s PA Hospital and neurosurgeon Sarah Olson, the regional Queensland town of Dalby would not be benefitting from the passion and dedication of registered nurse (RN) Shannon Sharman.
Shannon and her husband Chris moved to Dalby in November of 2021, where she is now working as a RN in Dalby Hospital’s emergency department, fulfilling a goal she had held ever since Associate Professor Olson saved her from a benign brainstem cavernoma in 2014.
Though benign, the cavernoma had grown to 24mm since she was first diagnosed after experiencing double vision while walking to work one day. It would cause three brainstem bleeds in two months and result in multiple hospital stays and would ultimately threaten her life.
By May of that year, Shannon was so unwell she could barely say her own name.
To stop the haemorrhaging and save her life A/Prof Olson had to not only source specialist medical equipment, but perform a unique surgery where Shannon was propped up in a seated position which the renowned surgeon has not performed since.
The surgery on the cavernoma, which at one point was considered to be inoperable, saved Shannon’s life. A/Prof Olson was able to remove 14mm of the cavernoma and the remaining tumour was managed by treatment from the Gamma Knife Centre of Queensland, also based at the PA Hospital.
Shannon Sharman (right) hugs her hero neurosurgeon Sarah Olson following the Bridge to Brisbane fun run.
Shannon would spend four months rehabilitating in the PA’s brain injury rehabilitation unit then set about her new goal of becoming a registered nurse. She worked for a time as an enrolled nurse at another Brisbane hospital, before taking up the opportunity to become an RN at Dalby and has not looked back since.
Shannon says she loves living in the country and has no regrets, but credits her newfound lifestyle and job at Dalby Hospital helping others to A/Prof Olson and the PA.
“My mum is a team leader at Dalby Hospital, I said to her I’ll come out there and just try it and I just love rural life and so we decided to stay here,” she said.
“I’m incredibly lucky to work in the ED here at Dalby, it can be full on at times but it’s awesome.
“I work in the acute ward as well, so I still get to help people with rehabilitation after falls and accidents and those types of things. It’s worked out really well as I get to do things I didn’t get to do working in the city.
“It is all possible because of the PA Hospital and Sarah, I would have died without Sarah’s intervention, she was the only one who was willing to do the surgery. I am forever indebted to her.”
Shannon gives back to the PA to this day, raising funds for Sarah’s research work by taking part in the annual Bridge to Brisbane fun run, and is quick to encourage others to give back to the PA.
“I’d definitely encourage people to make the PA Foundation their place to give to support Sarah’s work because when they do that, they are helping save lives like mine.”
Your place to give to help people like Shannon is the PA Research Foundation. You can give to support Associate Professor Sarah Olson's work at the PA Hospital here.