Hi to all the Gorgeous inspirational women out there, and thank you Nikki for the opportunity to share my story.
Warning: Please don’t read my story over dinner!
Like most, my life has been a series of ups and downs. A few major events have shaped who I am today. In my childhood, I remember being really scared of my Mum, the household was always turbulent,
back then smacks were the norm. I have strong memories of being chased with a knife from the kitchen, locking myself in the bathroom, Mum screaming “I’m going to kill you”. I have no idea what I did that day to make my Mother act this way. One neighbour yelled out “child abuser” as we were getting packed into the car.
A family of four girls was not what Mum envisioned for herself and I
guess she took out her frustrations on her children. (she wanted to be a Nun and was very religious). Dad was the calming influence, patient, loving and hard working.
When I was 14; doctors found a Tumour on Mum’s brain, the size of a golf ball! After major surgery to remove the pituitary tumour, and follow up radium treatment, Mum was rendered completely blind. Things changed from then on in. Dad had so many extra responsibilities, I took over the household cooking, cleaning, washing etc., and Mum required constant assistance and guidance.
It was a difficult life for her, plagued with many illnesses throughout her years. God bless her, she has passed now. I often wonder if the tumour caused her moodiness and aggression.
After graduating high school at 16; I went to University in Toowoomba and studied a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Stage Management, which I loved. After graduating, I worked for the Royal Queensland Theatre company for a few months. After three years at Uni, I wanted full time work, so applied for an Island job which I had found in the Newspaper. I took up residence on Great Keppel Island for three years, running reception and the gift shop. I absolutely loved the island life.
I fell pregnant on Keppel Island with my first child in 1995; so, my partner and I headed back to Brisbane to reside closer to family. I am the proud mother of four children, who have grown into lovely adults. My partner and I were married in 1998 but unfortunately, due to domestic violence, and after many failed attempts to reconcile, our relationship didn’t last. I wanted and needed a better life for my children.
My career has been a mixture of Retail business ownership, working in Sales and finally in 2007 settling into my passion for Real Estate working as an on-Site manager for a 75-townhouse complex in Nundah, Brisbane. I studied for my full agent licence, gained my certificates in 2011 and started my own Real Estate Agency in 2012. I absolutely loved my role and aimed to keep owners, tenants and the Body Corporate happy, well informed, and maintain the complex to the highest standards.
This role enabled me to encompass many of my strengths and abilities. I helped create an awesome community feel, with regular resident gatherings for Christmas and Australia day, where residents
could get to meet each other around the pool and get to know their neighbours.
I was happy, but my health wasn’t the best. Shocking news was about to rock my world. In 2013; after years of pain and bleeding, discomfort, many doctor’s visits and misdiagnoses, I changed doctors, and was immediately sent for an urgent colonoscopy. Following the colonoscopy, I was taken aside to a separate room where the specialist explained that my bowel was blocked with
cancer! Stage three at least. I asked if he was sure, he showed me the pictures and explained “that is what cancer looks like”.
A million thoughts raced through my head: “I can’t have cancer, who will look after my kids? The doctors MUST have made a mistake! Bowel cancer: but I’m only 41! You don’t get that till after 50! Is this all just a bad dream? I’ll wake up from this nightmare soon!” Instead of sending me for surgery immediately, which was the Colorectal surgeons initial plan, I endured 7 days of radiotherapy, where they also ‘zapped’ my ovaries as a precaution. This sent me into early medically induced menopause. I was a little bit happy about this side effect.
Apparently, the radiotherapy was not successful in reducing the size of the tumour which had blocked 30cm of my bowel. On the scans it looked like cancer had broken through the bowel wall and was connected to my uterus. Surgery followed the next day and I was informed that I may require a hysterectomy and an Ileostomy during the surgery (like a colostomy but reversible).
The surgery, an ultra-low anterior resection removing the 30cm of cancerous bowel, took 7 hours with a team of specialist doctors. It was successful! All 23 lymph nodes clear, not attached to the uterus so no hysterectomy. However, the surgery was followed by the most intense pain I have ever felt in my life. To compare, I have had four children naturally, my first was a 36-hour labour, 9 ½ pound (4.3kg) baby, so I had experienced pain!
The Ileostomy was necessary and overwhelmingly scary. I don’t thing you can prepare your mind or anticipate what it’s like beforehand. Due to the extent of the surgery, the staples and stitches etc., my body needed time to heal. A bag for your bowel; it’s an unforgettable experience. As a single divorced Mum of four I can only say I struggled and there were many hard days. I always try to hide my pain, and was on high doses of pain relief which eased things a little, but never took away the pain completely.
Six months of chemotherapy followed my surgery. I always felt so drained. Things started to fall apart a little. The chemotherapy treatment for bowel cancer doesn’t make you lose your hair. I am one lucky woman there. It would have been a little devastating for me to lose my hair because Mum always made me keep my hair short, and it took me years to grow my hair long! Looking back, this seems such a petty thought. The chemo treatment effected my fingernails, toenails, teeth and immune system. Some of my nails rotted and fell off, my teeth started rotting at the gums, I was catching every bug that went around.
The Oncology waiting room was filled with patients and their support person if they had one. In my case, I didn’t. My closest sister would have loved to have been there, but she worked full time with a family of her own. I was ok with it. My children were all in high school. Dad passed away in 1997;
Mum was blind and in a wheelchair after breaking her hip. If nobody can be there for you, you find ways to cope by yourself! For some reason, I didn’t talk to people, kept to myself and sort of stared into space. Unusual for me because I love a chat! I was scared I guess. As I was one of the youngest in the waiting room; my chemo treatment was usually left till last. Some days I waited 7 hours. I returned to work straight after getting out of hospital (signed sales documents on surgery day) but really struggled with the pain of sitting or standing for any length of time so I ended up not being able to work. The Ileostomy bag burst when I was holding an open for inspection at a property I was selling. Luckily it was at the end of the inspection and I was able to discreetly sort my issues without anyone noticing. Anyhow, this was the last straw for me.
The property sold, and I decided I needed to focus on my health, so didn’t take on any more listings and passed my rental properties to
another agent. I couldn’t give 100% to clients: this really mattered to me. Unfortunately, not working took its toll and my savings were depleted just trying to pay the rent, electricity and put food on the
table. It’s taken years for me to feel like things are returning to normal with my body. After 9 months following the initial operation, surgery for the reversal of my Ileostomy was successful, however the
body doesn’t quite recognise what to do, so bowel incontinence was an issue up until early 2017. I found this to be so embarrassing and it’s been difficult to go out in public when your body is so unpredictable. All scans and tests since the surgeries have been clear (I’ve lost count of how many).
Happy days, things have improved immensely! I am now pain relief free. In February 2017; I renewed my real estate agents licence and kicked my business back into gear. It’s a slow process, but I know the future is bright for my business. My reputation as an Agent was
something that kept me going. It’s such a great feeling when you can help people with something you’re passionate about.
I am growing each day. I crave learning new things. The inspiring women in this world spur me on. My children support me, and even though they’ve had to endure a horrible few years, they see me gain strength day by day! They feel my passion & love! I am grateful for being alive!! Day by day I see more and more beauty surrounding me.
The world is my oyster and I am its pearl!
About the Author
Judith Lord (nee Kendall): known as Jude was born in 1972 and is a mother to four beautiful children.
She is also a Real Estate Agent & Passionate Property Expert
Business: RealGen ~ A New Generation in Real Estate ~ Providing Genuine, personalised services at www.realgen.com.au
and you can also email Jude at firstname.lastname@example.org