Suzie’s Tradie Dolls tell cancer to get stuffed

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
3 Min Read

When Hannah Swales’s husband was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer four years ago, the stress was simply too much to bare.

She was left in a state of complete shock after her partner, Mathew Simmons, was told he had a deadly cancerous tumour attached to his aorta.

The electrician had spent months being reassured his stomach pains were just the prolonged effects of intestinal parasites, as doctors initially dismissed the chance of anything sinister.

However, scans eventually revealed he had ‘Paraganglioma’, a rare cancerous tumour affecting just 1 in 300,000.

The news turned Hannah’s world upside down.

Pregnant and faced with raising children as a single mother, she turned to her childhood hobby of Amigurumi to provide an escape.

“I learned this form of crochet with my grandma when I was just seven years old,” she told Build-it.

“I started doing it again to try and relax while we were going through all the stress, then someone suggested selling them.”

Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn toys, often in the form of creatures or animals.

Hannah started making Amigurumi tradie dolls in honour of her partner and to provide a form of loving comfort to children whose tradie parents may work FIFO or are unwell.

“I can customise them to look like either parent, have facial hair or even glasses. It helps with any separation anxiety,” she said.

The handmade Suzie’s Sunshine Dolls are named after Hannah and Matthew’s daughter, Suzie and can be made in various occupations and even different animal species.

The Darwin resident said she was eternally grateful for all the help she received during those testing times.

“I make sure some of the profits from every doll go to Cancer Council NT due to all the help they gave us.”

“During treatment, we had to travel to Adelaide, and the Cancer Council found us a place to stay and helped us find so many needed things.”

Mathew had the initial tumour removed successfully before being forced to have a second surgery a year later after the cancer recurred.

He is now in complete remission but has to remain vigilant with 6-monthly checks to ensure the cancer does not grow back.

To find out more or purchase a doll, visit their facebook page. 

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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.

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