Q&A with Dr. Chantel Thornton

by Sussan, Tuesday 01 Oct 2019

In August, Sussan hosted an intimate dinner to celebrate women and encourage conversation around female empowerment. Our guests discussed personal insights, advice, tips and words of wisdom.

Lisa Messenger, Founder and Editor in Chief at Collective Hub, led a panel conversation where she spoke with a group of inspiring women including Specialist Breast Surgeon, Dr. Chantel Thornton.

We feature Chantel’s responses below, where she discusses her thoughts on hardships, how and when to trust intuition, and the importance of tenacity.

What does it mean to you to be strong, powerful, confident?
To be strong means having great mental and physical health, to be anaerobically and aerobically fit and healthy, and to be psychosocially stable. To be powerful means the ability to build a brilliant team, to influence behaviour, and make a positive impact on the lives of others. To be confident means to be full of self-respect and self-love, and free of self-doubt while being assertive and self-assured.

What does being a woman mean to you today? Is there one trait that you have witnessed that helps propel women forward?
Being a woman means having the ability to exceed at anything that your heart desires. Tenacity is the one trait that I have witnessed that helps to propel women forward.

How do you nurture yourself?
I nurture myself by doing regular exercise, including walking outdoors, running and gym sessions, as well as spending quality time with family and friends.

What is your view on resilience, tenacity, and is it true that hardships or setbacks can be used as fuel to make a stronger?
Determination, dedication, persistence and the will to exceed regardless of the walls that are in front of you; these are the most important attributes to fulfilling individual goals. Resilience and tenacity cannot be underestimated in an individuals' ability to achieve success at great heights. Hardships, be it psychological, physical or in business, will test an individuals' strength of character. Ultimately, recovery from hardship will always be faster when an individual has a coping strategy that allows them to absorb a problem, to learn from it, analyse it, process it, and move forward without maladaptation or maladjustment.

How important is it to trust your gut and intuition?
It depends on the circumstances in which you need to make the decision. I think that in a social circumstance, with human relationships, trusting instinct and feelings is important. As a scientist and surgeon, even when I don't feel easy about a clinical judgment or situation, if there is evidence or factual information available to support it then I must rely on it instead of my gut and intuition. 'Gut and intuition' can really be described as 'principles and ethics'. I think that no matter what you do in life, you need to develop your ethos as to what you feel is acceptable and appropriate, which can then be combined with fact to assist in decision making.

What is the legacy you want to leave in the world?
I will probably leave a financial legacy to some of the medical philanthropic organisations I am involved with and to supporting health and artistic development in disadvantaged communities. Australia has high rates of obesity and lifestyle-related diseases such as cancer, so I would like to be remembered for the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and the prevention of lifestyle-related diseases. I would also like to be remembered for my role as a Specialist Breast Cancer Surgeon in improving the outcome of all women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Who are three women who inspire you and why?
Mother Teresa - Mother Teresa was a tireless humanitarian who devoted her life to helping the poor, sick and disadvantaged. Coco Chanel - Gabrielle Chanel revolutionised fashion, and in doing so, she allowed women the freedom to dress to suit their personality and to celebrate their bodies. She challenged gender norms. Marie Curie – Marie is a Physicist and Scientist and the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, as well as the only person to win 2 Nobel Prizes in different scientific fields. Marie was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris and has revolutionised the treatment of patients with her scientific medical discoveries.

What is your superpower?
My superpower is my fitness and high energy levels and the ability to function on limited sleep.