Palliative Matters

Grief is a feeling you don’t get over or recover from. You learn to live with it and adjust to a new reality. For this inspiring mum, the grief of losing her daughter fuelled her desire to help other families in the toughest situations of their life.


Suzanne Tunks was 18 weeks pregnant when she received the heartbreaking news that her child had a very rare and complex heart condition. Doctors didn’t know if her baby would live for days, weeks or months once born. On the 10th of December 2009, beautiful little Stella entered the world with a fight on her hands. Two weeks later, on Christmas Eve, Stella had her first heart surgery with the hope of survival and for her heart to grow big and strong.

Stella was in and out of Canberra and Sydney hospitals as doctors were trying to give her the best care and opportunity for her heart to stay strong.  It was when Stella was 4.5 months old that the doctors declared there were no more treatment options and sent the family home to Canberra with a referral to palliative care.

Suzanne and Matthew then kept Stella out of the hospital for 50 days. With exceptional care and a great medical team, Stella lived for another 4.5 months before she died on Father's Day in 2010.  After Stella’s death, Suzanne knew she wanted to help other families during the toughest times of their lives, which today we all know as the Stella Bella Foundation.

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A mother’s journey with a silver lining