November 12, 2012

A Lesson In Courage from a Warrior Mummy

So last Monday, I tweeted . . .
The marriage between a tissue and a laundry load of darks is not a happy one. But just you try and convince them to divorce!
Because I was having such a hard day, and getting tiny pieces of tissue all over the washing was such a disaster. Yeah right.

On Tuesday I discovered what a hard day is really like. 

I was fortunate enough to attend a Melbourne Cup fundraiser for Motor Neurone Disease at my son's school. The guest of honour was Lisa, one of our school mums who has been living with MND for many years. 

Just writing that sentence seems too trivial. Living with MND. But once you meet Lisa, once you hear her story, you can't help but be blown away by how this amazing woman is not only living with MND, but really living. And not just with MND, but with cancer. Life has thrown this gal curve balls that would make David Beckham look like a straight shooter. 

And then there's the strength of the woman! Look up guts and determination in the dictionary and you will see this picture . . .

The beautiful and amazing Lisa in her Melbourne Cup finery
Like many people I didn't know much about MND. But as I discovered last Tuesday, it's a progressive disease that attacks the motor neurones, or nerves, in the brain and spinal cord. This means messages gradually stop reaching muscles, which gradually affects how you walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe.

In short, it affects every single thing you do, from taking your first breath every morning, to walking to the bathroom, to speaking to your children. But Lisa not only has MND, she has a whole lot more on her plate right now. More than you or I could ever imagine having to deal with.

In her own words, taken from her blog Diary Of A Warrior Mummy, this is Lisa's story . . .
First and foremost I am an incredibly proud mum of two awesome children, I’m also a wife of the most magnificent husband who has stuck by me through thick and thin, better and worse.
I happen to have some health challenges but that is not who I am, it is what I have.  I have been defying Motor Neurone Disease (MND) for many years, 18 months ago I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and had a mastectomy and chemotherapy and was cleared only to have the cancer return in my brain this September.

Currently I am having whole brain radiation and I intend to kick cancer in the arse!

My first encounter with cancer was at age 22 when I was diagnosed with Stage 3B Hodgkins Lymphoma which was treated with extensive chemotherapy.  It was at this time that I decided that any future health challenges would be counteracted by setting myself a personal goal to aim for.  This was my positive way of coping.

During this part of my life I refused to let it stop me from pursuing a career in the fitness industry so I strapped my wig on and taught aerobics all the way through.   Once I went into remission I thought I was invincible and could do anything so applied to university and achieved a Bachelor of Sports Science, this was my personal challenge.  I worked in health and fitness for 25 years.

When I was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) my personal challenge was to raise my children to be confident, independent, fearless, compassionate and kind individuals that never thought of my health as an issue.

When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer my personal challenge was study to become a Catholic.  Over the next 9 months I completed all my sacraments with the final Eucharist held in June this year.

My personal challenge after my recent diagnosis of metastised breast cancer (brain) was to give back to all the people that have helped me, in particular the Motor Neurone Association who have provided unlimited support.

See? Amazing or what?! And these are not just a few brave words. On Tuesday, we heard from Lisa's closest friends and she really is this positive. Every single day.

Here is a story they told that is typical of Lisa. When one of her best friends was heading off for a holiday, Lisa said her farewells and asked her friend all about her upcoming trip, neglecting to mention that she, Lisa, had broken yet another bone in her fragile body earlier that day. She didn't mention it because she didn't want to spoil her friend's holiday. Holy ouch! I've broken a bone before. It's agonising. But for Lisa, it's a regular occurrence. Just another annoying little glitch and another example of how she pumps her fist at the universe, not shouting "why me?" but proclaiming "lucky me" instead.

But Lisa's message is strong. Do not pity her. Do not feel sad. Instead, Lisa wants her story to help anyone who is dealing with anxiety or negative thoughts in their life. That's why she started her blog which I urge you to follow. Lisa is finding it difficult to speak at the moment due to the oral thrush she's contracted - a side effect of brain radiation - but her lively, positive, fun personality leaps out at you from her writing, which her carer and friends help her to type.

Lisa and her two miracle girls
I'm so glad I attended our school Melbourne Cup lunch. I have a toddler and a business and life is crazy busy. I could so easily have found a reason not to go. But I would have been so much the poorer for it. Lisa and the beautiful, generous women who surround her like a personal army wielding the big guns of love and support, gave me a lesson, not only in courage, but in the power of love, friendship and positive thinking.

And the next time I hang out a load of washing full of tiny white flecks because someone left a tissue in the pocket of their jeans, I will remember Lisa and be grateful; grateful that I have those 'someones' in my life; grateful that I can hang out washing; grateful that there is a next time.

Thank you Lisa xx

There are two causes close to Lisa's heart - the future education of her two gorgeous daughters and the MND Association. You can donate to either here at Lisa's Wish.

Our Special Melbourne Cup Lunch (oh, was there a horse race???)

Some more snaps of Lisa and the yummy mummies from our school at our Melbourne Cup fundraiser. Photographs by the amazingly talented Danielle Fleming of Pandanus Photography. For the most incredible family portraits for all your relatives this Christmas, or as a very special gift to yourself, run don't walk to her website now.

Lisa and her sister Kerri

Lisa and her carer and friend Cherloe

Photographer Danielle Fleming (left) and Lisa's army member Angela (right)

High tea indeed!

Choc covered strawberries (of which I ate at least four! In the interest of fairness I felt I had to try one of each kind)

Event planner extraordinaire Donna (right) and Leanne (a fellow school mum who is not only lovely but also responsible for keeping my roots under control!)

The guest of honour arrives!

Your blogger and the ever-glamourous Felicity

Lisa's army of BFFs

Angela (left) and our fabulous MC for the day Melinda Gainsford-Taylor

More gorgeous mums
Our fantastic & supportive principal Josie (right) and Leanne (mother of 4 including twins & therefore a superwoman!)

Lisa's friends Ange and Elizabeth holding hands on stage during an emotional, funny, inspiring speech

Your blogger (far left) thinking that getting the heels off is a marvellous idea!
BFF Cindy gives a tired Lisa a cuddle
Don't forget to donate here if you want to support Lisa and/or MND. You can also follow her blog here.

1 comment:

  1. Wow... What a lady!
    Thanks Shell... Made me smile and brought a tear to my eye.


I love hearing from you (and by the way, you're looking lovely today) x

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