Women’s Health Week is a week to focus on your health, learn more and take action. The theme of this year’s Women’s Health Week is: AM I NORMAL?
A question, we know, every woman at some stage asks herself, whether it’s about weight, body image, mental health or sex. So let’s get rid of the elephant in the room and start talking about these topics and more. Get the facts during the week from 5-9 September.
Gladstone News caught up with Gladstone women to start a conversation.
Owner of Shoe Luxe
Hi, my name is Lyn and I would like to share with you a chapter of my life which started almost a year ago. On a “normal” Sunday afternoon I discovered a sizeable lump in my right breast. A week later, after some initial scans and testing, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
Those few words “you have Breast Cancer” completely rocked my world. It didn’t feel real – surely there must be a mistake?? I had so many questions;
How had this happened?
How did I miss such a big lump?
What had I done wrong?
I have always been so healthy and didn’t look sick?
Over the next 10 months life was anything but “normal” for myself and my family. Initially I felt completely overwhelmed and at times very isolated but at that point made a conscious decision to adopt a positive attitude. I was fortunate to be surrounded by loving family and friends that I was able to lean on. I was also able to access support from a variety of organisations and networks. Everyone I met along the way has been absolutely fantastic.
Don’t be shy in asking or accepting help from others or afraid to express your feelings and share your story. Once you start a conversation, it is amazing how many people you meet have travelled a similar path to you or know someone who has.
Although it has been a little difficult adjusting back into what’s thought of as “normal life”, I am determined to stay positive, enjoy life and maintain a healthy balance. I have finished my initial treatment and am now on hormone therapy with a check up every 3 months. While I am not officially in remission, things are looking good so far.
One of the key messages being promoted for Women’s Health Week is a question that really resonated with me…’Am I Normal?’ or just as importantly for me ‘Is this pain normal?’ See, I am one of ten percent of Australian women who have a condition called endometriosis. That’s how common it is, one in ten women have it.
Sadly, it took over a decade to get a diagnosis which is just as common. It’s also not unusual for many people, myself included, to have no clue what this disease is the first time they hear of it. Endo is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of a woman’s uterus occurs in other parts of her body. During menstruation, these growths also shed and bleed which can cause excruciating pain. It can also lead to infertility. When I first saw doctors as a teenager describing my period pain, I was indirectly (or sometimes directly) given two messages. Is my pain normal? Yes, you’re a woman, you should expect pain every month, take a Panadol, get over it. Am I normal? No, your pain is all in your head or you’re exaggerating. These messages were drummed into me for so long that by the time I was finally diagnosed in 2015 it had spread to my bowel, rectum as well as ovaries and the pain was debilitating.
In a few months I will be having my third surgery to remove lesions and I am now unable to work fulltime. It’s so important to listen to your body and trust your judgement. If you’re in pain, don’t let anyone minimise your experience or tell you it’s in your head. Make yourself heard, there are people who will listen and get you the help you need. Let’s start talking openly about women’s health and stop ignoring the elephant in the room.
Carly Portch from Hot FM
Do you ever worry about your health? Not as much as I should I can’t even remember the last time I went to the doctors and as I’m typing this I realise how bad that is.
Do you take the time to focus on your health? See above! I do try to keep my mental health in check by doing things that keep me feeling good and happy but in terms of physical health I think I put it in the too hard basket I really need to get on a treadmill!
Do you believe there is enough information available to women on Women’s Health Issues? As a new woman to CQ I have no idea what services are available locally but to be fair I have not looked too much into it, I have definitely fallen into that internet trap of self-diagnosis which can be very dangerous so in terms of the internet I think there is too much information!
Natalie Thomas from Hub Total Fitness
Do you ever worry about your health? Yes I do, especially as the years are ticking by and there is still so much I want to do and be healthy and fit for!
Do you take the time to focus on your health? Every day! With a pretty busy work schedule and 3 boys I still make the time to prepare healthy meals and do daily exercise. Being in a gym environment definitely has its advantages. The influence of my peers at work and seeing them dedicate time to their health is also a motivator.
Do you believe there is enough information available to women on Women’s Health Issues? Yes I believe there is. The Womens Health Centre does a lot for our community and there is so much information on the internet these days too!
Do you ever worry about your health? I think it’s only natural to be concerned when something changes in your health. For me personally, I’ve been lucky enough to be fit and healthy for the majority of my life, and my health really hasn’t kept me awake at night.
Do you take time to focus on your health? As a health professional my own health certainly takes priority within my lifestyle. I take care in choosing my food (I am a dietitian after all!) and I schedule time specifically for exercise. I’m very aware that my main problem is stress, I do have a high workload in business and trying to get the work-life balance can be difficult for me. Being aware of these things helps to solve to problem, I’ve been able to set aside a portion of my week as a dedicated work-free zone.
Do you believe there is enough information available to women on Women’s Health Issues? I believe women are more proactive about their health in comparison to men, if you know where to look there is quite a lot of information freely available. What I find difficult is trying to establish whether the source you’ve found is reputable and accurate. Particularly, in my own discipline of nutrition there as abundance of inaccurate advice getting around online.
Roseberry Community Services
Do you ever worry about your health?
I try not to worry about much really… I personally believe worry itself is unhealthy. I do pay attention to my health, it is important to have a balance, eat the right foods, train and relax.
Do you take the time to focus on your health?
Of course, to operate at peak performance requires focus. Fitness – I train approximately 5 days per week. Mental – I incorporate meditation as well as reading spiritual practice. Food – I eat a vegan diet so lots of fruits, veg, legumes. And lots of naughty treats!
Do you believe there is enough information available to women on Women’s Health Issues?
We have some wonderful services in Gladstone and online that can provide all required information. It’s up to individuals to seek it out, do their research and make their own mind up.
Erin Robertson from Bill Robertson Toyota
Do you ever worry about your health? Yes. As I get older I am more aware of needing to take good care of myself.
Do you take the time to focus on your health? Yes, I visit my GP when things aren’t feeling right and try to exercise on a regular basis and make healthy eating choices. Given that I’m a Mum of 2 little girls I feel the pressure to focus on my health, both in body and mind, for their benefit as much as mine. Being a good role model with my health, is always at the back of my mind.
Do you believe there is enough information available to women on Women’s Health Issues? Yes I think women are more inclined to seek out information on their health than men. If we aren’t sure, I find we are pretty good at asking a friend. Gladstone has some great outlets for seeking out the right information, not only can we go to our GP’s, there’s also a good array of gyms and personal trainers, plus there’s organisations like Headspace and Gladstone Women’s Health Centre to assist us.
Jamie Peterson from Yaralla Sports Club
Do you ever worry about your health? Definitely! All the time.
Do you take the time to focus on your health? I try my best to. But we all have our weaknesses right?
Do you believe there is enough information available to women on Women’s Health Issues? Somewhat, but there could definitely be more! I’m lucky I have a GP I’m comfortable with otherwise I actually wouldn’t know where to look.