Posted in Health

Heather’s Story – And How You Can Help

This is Heather Von St. James.

Heather Von St.James
Heather Von St.James

She was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 36 – just 3 ½ months after her first and only child, Lily, was born. She was given just 15 months to live unless she underwent a drastic surgery to remove her left lung. Miraculously, she beat the odds and is still here eight years later.

Alarmingly, Asbestos is not banned in the US – yet it’s the only known cause of mesothelioma  (a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos).

Heather was exposed to asbestos through her father’s work jacket when she was just a little girl; her diagnosis came about 30 years later.

Once diagnosed, most patients die within 2 years.

Heather is one of few survivors who openly share their story and work to spread awareness regarding the dangers of asbestos.

In honour of upcoming Asbestos Awareness Week (April 1-7), Heather has created a webpage dedicated to raising awareness.

I think this is such an important issue and am absolutely gob-smacked to learn that asbestos is still used in America.

I would love it if you would be willing to take a look at Heather’s page mesothelioma.com/heather/awareness and share it on social media in order to help educate and raise awareness about this preventable disease!

I wish you all the best with your campaign Heather. You are such a brave lady with a wonderful attitude towards life.

Posted in Health, Life

Life Lessons Learnt From The Sofa

Recently my husband worked away from home for about a month. Initially I freaked out at the thought of being alone with the children for so long and wondered how this ‘Damsel in Distress’ was going to cope. However, my friends rallied around to ensure I was not lonely and that I retained some sense of sanity and, with their help, I got through it ok. I must admit, it was a very busy few weeks, especially considering the children were on school holidays at the time and I distinctly remember several moments where I wished I could “just put my feet up for a while.”

So, as often happens in my life, the universe delivered: Shortly after my husband returned I managed to misjudge a step outside of the house, roll my ankle and consequently end up unable to walk and destined for a few weeks with my feet up. I obviously need to be a little more concise when I put my wishes out there: I was actually imagining a scene where I was stretched out on a sun-lounger, dressed in my bikini with cocktail in hand – not on the sofa at home with an ice-pack on my ankle and a couple of Nurofen to swallow!

photo credit: ΠάνοςΤ via photopin cc

However, as much as I was not at all happy about my predicament, being forced to rest reinforced for me a few of life’s important lessons:

Life goes on

While I was staring out the window, at the television or mindlessly scrolling through my phone, I came to the realisation that the world was still spinning and life was soldiering on regardless. This was despite the fact that I was not racing around trying to fit 30 hours into a 24 hour day!

Letting go


My lovely husband had no choice but to take a week off work to organise the children, get meals and generally attend to my every need. Lucky man! He tried his best but of course he didn’t do things exactly like I do: Wet towels were left on the lounge floor; Dirty dishes were often left in that state overnight; Toys became more visible than the carpet beneath them and the outfits my daughter ended up in – don’t get me started! However, he was trying his best and due to his efforts we all got fed, the children got bathed, dressed, taken to school and put to bed and life went on. Therefore, I had to learn how to bite my tongue and let go of the reins. It definitely wasn’t easy but was a valuable lesson for me to learn that things can still get done even when they are not done my way!

Asking for help

After a week off work, my husband really wanted needed to get back to his regular job. Therefore, as I have no family here, I had to take a deep breath and do something I often struggle with: ask for help! So, with the help of my wonderful friends, I was driven to appointments, my children were looked after and taken to school and everyone pitched in to get me through. My children were also a great help to me and were more than happy to help out with the chores, get themselves dressed and find their own food. This made me realise how independent they can be and how they are much more capable than I gave them credit for. I also learnt that you should not be too proud to ask for help because more often than not, people are very happy to lend a hand.

It’s ok that we’re all different

My husband is not big on talking about emotions, his or anybody else’s. So when I injured myself he was brilliant with his actions – racing to get me ice-packs and painkillers, taking care of the children and cooking us meals. However, he didn’t come and give me a big hug. He didn’t ask how I was feeling or ask how I was coping and he didn’t know how to react when I was upset.
At first, I was a bit peeved about this. His actions were practical and necessary but some of the time all I wanted was to have a cry and be given a hug. However, I realised this would be how I would be acting and he is not me. In fact, he is probably my polar opposite in many respects. So, instead of being cross with him I had to learn to be grateful for his actions and realise that this was his way of telling me he loves me and feeling sorry for me – and they say women are complicated?!

Be grateful

I consider myself to be a positive person who counts her blessings. However having to rely on others as much as I have had to the last few weeks has reinforced just how grateful I am for the people in my life:

– I am extremely grateful for my wonderful friends who have rallied around to keep up my morale and help me out. I am blessed to have found such a great support network in my adopted country.

– I am thankful to have a loving husband who is also a great father to my children and a great support to me (in his own way!)

– I am blessed to have such helpful, caring children.

– I am grateful that the angels were looking out for us the day I fell, as I was carrying my 4-year-old daughter and she survived without a scratch and my injuries could have been worse also.

photo credit: symphony of love via photopin cc

Although fracturing my ankle was not a life-changing event, it has still put things in perspective for me. It has made me realise that if I allow myself to slow down a bit I will have more time to enjoy life’s precious moments more fully, be more relaxed, happier and not miss out on what is right in front of me.

Now, that’s one awesome silver lining!

Posted in Entertainment, Health

Suffering In Silence

Last night I was getting my weekly fix of the new Australian drama ‘Wonderland‘ on Channel Ten. Usually I can watch this show, sip my tea and let my brain take a little break from its overactive nature … however last night it got me thinking.

You see, one of the female characters cheated on her husband and then confessed her dirty deed to him.

Colette's confession
Colette’s confession

After the confession, she immediately told a friend and lent on her for support. Her husband, on the other hand, didn’t tell a soul and tried to deal with his feelings alone.

Why don’t men talk about their feelings? Why do they suffer in silence?

I understand that men often react differently to stressful situations than women and I realise they need to go into their ‘man caves’ to figure stuff out. However, I don’t see how this is an effective strategy and I believe that it would be better if they could find a way to share their worries and burdens rather than keeping them bottled up.

man in cave
photo credit: Nhoj Leunamme == Jhon Emmanuel via photopin cc

There are certain notions in our society about how men are supposed to behave: They are supposed to be successful, in control at all times and keep their feelings in check. However ideas such as these can be extremely detrimental to the male psyche and may lead to depression, then, if the depression is left unchecked, it can be fatal. In fact, “In Australia, men account for 80 per cent of deaths by suicide” (Better Health Channel).

I try to allow my husband space to sort things out in his own mind before probing him too much about his emotions. However, sometimes it is hard to understand what is going on with him if he doesn’t share this information with me.

I also try to allow my son room to express his feelings and am conscious of not invalidating his comments about his emotions. However, I do worry that as he gets older he will learn that, as a male, he is supposed to ‘toughen up’, not be a ‘wuss’ and just ‘get over it’.

As I am neither a male nor a psychologist, I don’t have all the answers here; but maybe some of you out there have some ideas?

Why do men suffer in silence?

Do you think this is changing and the men of today are getting better at talking about their emotions?

How do we teach our sons to talk about their feelings and not be too proud to ask for help?

Posted in Health

Is This The New Drug?

Everywhere I look, everybody’s at it; The blonde-haired beach babes, with their Barbie-doll-like bodies, prancing along the pavement; the super fit mummies, pushing their sports-model prams, treating their toned thighs to a trot and the men with their muscular torsos sprinting along the sand while casually chatting to their buddies beside them. And then …..There’s me. I’m the red-faced one, choking on her own breath while urging her feet to lift themselves a wee bit higher so she doesn’t face plant the concrete. Yes, it’s a good look for me, I know!

running
photo credit: mikebaird via photopin cc

I like the theory of going for a run, but I’m not convinced by the application. I just don’t understand how what I have experienced when trying to run could be described as ‘fun.’ However, my friends assure me it is. And not just fun, but “highly addictive” once you get into it. One friend has even shared with me that when all those happy endorphins are buzzing around after a run, she gets extremely frisky – no wonder her husband approves!

frisky
photo credit: Dean Terry via photopin cc

Now on social occasions, along with ‘hairstyles down below’, ‘children’ etc, the conversation invariably turns to running. Who has been for a run; when they are entering their next event and how fabulous they feel now they are running.

I have to admit I’m just not experiencing the high. Sure, I feel fantastic once I get to stop and the coffee afterwards tastes slightly better than normal, but ‘fun’, ‘addictive’ and ‘horny’ it is not!

Maybe I haven’t been at it long enough? Maybe I just need a few more notches on my belt and I will be as high as a kite? Who knows? I guess I will just have to get on that horse a bit more often and wait for the effects to kick in.

What about you? Are you addicted to running? Or do you not really get what all the buzz is about?

Posted in Health

It’s Awesome Being Average

Average

I was going to use “The Plus Side of being Plus-Sized” for the headline of this article, but when I googled it did some research I found that “The average Australian dress size sits somewhere between a fourteen and a sixteen.”
(http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/blogs/style-files/why-size-doesnt-matter-20130305-2fiso.html#ixzz2cfJrGt8i)

That means I’m actually average – awesome!

Yes, I can hear the cogs of your brains working over-time and wondering why I wouldn’t rather be a 10 or 12 than a 14 or 16 – well my friends here’s the answer:

Please note: For the remainder of the article I will be referring to Above-Average-Sized Girls as AAGs and Below-Average-Sized Girls as BAGs. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against BAGs, it is just easier than typing out the whole thing. You see, as well as being a little bit fat, I’m also a little bit lazy – hence why I am not a BAG.

So without further ado, here are the reasons why is it Awesome Being Average:

You are well-liked. The reason being is that the AAGs aren’t jealous of you and the BAGs are not threatened by you.

You can shop anywhere. You are still small enough to fit clothes in normal (I hate that word!) shops and big enough to browse the Plus-Sized stores if you fancy.

You can visit Maccas worry-free. You can happily eat a Big Mac without getting the “Do you think you really NEED that love?” look that the AAGs have to contend with or the “You don’t belong here” look that the BAGs get.

You don’t have to feel self-conscious when exercising. When I’m exercising I generally am greeted with smiles by people who I assume are thinking something along the lines of “You go girl, soon you will fit those jeans.” Rather than the awful “Don’t you think you’ve left you’re run a bit late” looks I have seen dished out to the AAGs and the “God, would you just stop and have a cheeseburger already” looks that the BAGs have to contend with sometimes.

It is pleasant visiting the doctor. Being an average size means you don’t get lectured every time you visit the doctor about losing weight – Hallelujah!

I am not so naive to think that I don’t need to lose a few kilos here or there, but I am certainly not going to stress myself silly over it and as long as I am above average in the happiness side of things I am more than happy being average in terms of size – actually it’s AWESOME!

Awesomeness