Some people find it tempting to give up when the going gets tough. Some might even be tempted to give up on a partner because they weren’t the same person anymore. For instance, when this woman suffered horrendous third-degree burns, it would change her life completely. But rather than bailing, her partner had the most touching thing to say.
Turia Pitt was born in the South Pacific island of Tahiti in the 1980s. Her surf-loving Australian dad had moved there when he fell in love with its waves. And there he also fell in love with the woman who would become Pitt’s mom. Then, he would return to Australia with his new family when Pitt was three.
As Pitt grew up, a bright future opened up ahead of her. She had earned, with honors, a double degree in mining engineering and science at the University of New South Wales. In fact, she was working as a model when she got a call from mining company Rio Tinto offering her a job.
Not wanting to miss the opportunity of her dream job, Pitt relocated to Kununurra in western Australia with her longtime boyfriend, Michael Hoskin. With a great new job and a supportive boyfriend, Pitt had a lot going for her. But it was here that their lives would change forever.
In September 2011, Pitt, a keen athlete, signed up for a 62-mile “ultra-marathon” through the Australian outback. However, during the race, a brush fire sprang up in the area, surrounding the 24-year-old. There was no way of escaping, so she attempted to shelter from the flames among some rocks until the blaze passed.
However, Pitt soon realized that her only chance of survival was to find a way out. She subsequently told the ABC Australia television channel, “It just got hotter and hotter and hotter and I couldn’t stand it anymore so I jumped up and tried to run and that’s when I got burned.”
Somehow, Pitt managed to escape the fire, but not without being horrifically injured. She suffered horrendous third-degree burns to more than 65 percent of her body. The burns were so terrible, in fact, that even her friends could no longer recognize her.
First on the scene was a paramedic from her home town. As Pitt recalled to ABC Australia in 2015, “I said to her, ‘Hey Bonnie, how are you?’ and she just gave me a blank look because she didn’t even recognize me. When I said ‘It’s me, it’s Turia,’ I noticed a tear start rolling down her face.”
Pitt herself didn’t realize the extent of her injuries. In fact, she was lucky to be alive at all. “She was literally cooked,” burns specialist Dr. Peter Haertsch told CBS’ 60 Minutes in 2012. “I’ve never had a patient with such a deep burn survive. Not ever.”
Pitt would spend a month in an induced coma followed by six months of rehabilitation. Skin was flown in from America for surgery to replace her own, and she would don a special compression mask for two years to help the burns on her face to heal. Furthermore, her hands were so badly burned that she had seven fingers amputated.
In fact, Pitt would undergo no less than 200 surgical procedures throughout her rehabilitation. Moreover, she would even need to learn how to walk and talk again. But she wasn’t the only person on whom the horrific incident would have a life-changing impact. By her side throughout the entire ordeal would be her partner, Michael Hoskin.
Hoskin met Pitt when the pair were still in school, and Hoskin knew soon after they started dating that Pitt was the woman he would marry. When she moved to Kununurra, Hoskin left his job as a cop to be with her. And during her recovery, he quit work entirely to become her full-time carer.
But there was something else Hoskin did as Pitt lay in intensive care. Yes, he bought her a diamond engagement ring. Feeling it wasn’t the right time to propose, however, he held onto the ring for a while. And when asked if the thought of leaving had ever crossed his mind, he gave the most touching response.
“I married her soul, her character and she’s the only woman that will continue to fulfill my dreams,” Hoskin said on Australian television. The couple had always talked of marriage and kids. But it wasn’t until a holiday in the Maldives four years after the accident that Hoskin proposed.
Hoskin’s support gave Pitt strength throughout her recovery. Indeed, she told the Daily Mail in 2015, “Going to sleep next to my partner I never thought anything of before. Now I think [how] lucky am I get to sleep next to this beautiful man. He’s a good guy and I’m very lucky to have him.”
Despite her injuries and doctors telling her she would never be able to run again, Pitt has continued to inspire with her recovery. Throughout the journey, though, she had one goal to keep her motivated: to compete in the Ironman World Championship. It’s a feat she accomplished in Hawaii in October 2016.
The race was a challenge for Pitt, who still faces difficulties as a result of her injuries. For instance, she needs modified equipment to allow for her amputated fingers, and she needs special running gear because her body is now unable to control its temperature. Regardless, ahead of the challenge, she told the Herald Sun, “I’d rather take a crack at it and fail than not even try at all.”
It’s this relentlessly positive attitude that Pitt showcases all over the world in her role as ambassador for charity Interplast. The non-profit organization travels to developing Asian countries offering free surgery to those with disfigurements. In June 2014, Pitt raised more than $130,000 for the charity in a trek along the Great Wall of China.
Rather than being full of self pity, Pitt is grateful for her situation. “I feel so blessed to live in Australia,” she told ABC. “We’ve got one of the best medical systems in the world. If I would have had my accident in a developing country, like Laos, then I would be dead.”
“I’m really lucky to be surrounded by people that love me, that believe in me, that tell me anything is possible, and tell me I’m beautiful,” Pitt explained. “All of those things have helped me to have such a strong sense of self-belief. I am very proud of who I am and what I’ve done.”