Photo provided by Jodie Guerrero
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Jodie Guerrero communicated, “Living for life and fighting for life, has taught me some valuable lessons. It has now shaped who I am as a person and made me more grateful for every moment that steps into my journey. My struggles to get an initial diagnosis highlighted major flaws in the medical systems; I reached out to for help. As a result, I was determined to find out why my diagnosis was so delayed and why my symptoms could not gain the attention of the doctors I sought help from. I took my case to a state health commission here in Australia, who investigated - after an almost 2 year deep look into my desperate struggle, my chief GP was finally disciplined. Although, I got no apology from him, at least I was able to fix a big problem and take a stand for other patients to know that they too can advocate for themselves and for the system. It was never about revenge, but turning a broken health system into a more positive and safe environment for other patients. The full story about my case is here: http://www.jodiesjourney.com/jodies_case.”
Jodie talked about her support, “I believe I'm a strong person from the outset, able to push through and persevere where others, feel like quitting and don't follow through. However, without a doubt, my strong faith in God has been everything to my family and me. Without that faith and my understanding of a promised eternity, I may have struggled with the weight of my diagnosis and prognosis much more and could have descended into an un-recoverable mental illness nightmare or even have decided to take my own life. But, just when I felt like giving up, I was always reminded of my key foundations and what I believed, as a disciple and as a woman and mother - who needed to live for her husband and 2 kids. I remember being alone in hospital, looking out of my room at the city lights, planes coming into land and on the horizon - a church displayed a large lit red cross, across the city - without fail it was there every night and reminded me that I was not yet dead, but very much alive and able to carry on and push past this evil thing trying to eat my body.”
She discussed her condition today, “Although I have a prognosis of incurable, I am currently in remission and excited about the opportunities being placed before me every day. I am also hopeful that current research into cures for Lymphoma and Leukemia are advancing at a rapid rate and showing promising signs to keep patients alive for much longer. Research indicates that there maybe a cure, just on the horizon. I have significant pain without medication, and mobility issues with my right leg, due to scaring of the S1 nerve root. However, I am closely monitored and supported by a caring team of doctors who provide the correct medications for me to live normally and without pain, due to my medications. A pain team and mental health professionals also monitor me for signs of distress or anxiety. I am very blessed to be managed by the southern hemisphere's biggest and best hospital.”
Jodie talked about hitting bottom, “I believe my rock bottom was in my final months prior to diagnosis. Not one person around me believed what I was telling them, not even my husband. I felt completely trapped in a failing body and in a land of mental confusion. I knew my body was failing, but everyone was telling me that I was wrong, that I looked fine. How else was I able to carry-on a full-time city job and care for 2 kids and a family, whilst I was sick? I had no choice, regardless of my pain and physical symptoms; I couldn't just drop everything, because not one soul believed me. Even walking to work from the train, in the city was becoming more and more painful, my right leg was shuddering with nerve pain and pins and needles from the pressure of tumors on my nerve roots in my lower back. I often thought at the time and was comforted by that fact, that if I did finally collapse, the hospital was not far away and an ambulance could get me there fast. Lessons from such an experience could only be described as life altering and I am not sure I would really call them lessons. They were more like little continual nightmares, one after the other. I would say the main lesson I did learn was to trust your gut and never give up, no matter what the obstacles. I could have stopped going to doctors or maybe decided not to go to the ER and died within a short period of time. Giving up is and never will be an option, only 2nd place. First place is the only place I want to be.”
Her advice for others, “When those around you tell you to be quiet, don't feel discouraged. When your pain is escalating, don't be defeated. Understand that these things are temporary and will always come and go. Make sure you form a supportive and positive network around you, who believe in you 100%, even if they are outside of your family. Reach out to professional support groups for your specific disease - make sure you attend meetings to support yourself and give back to others struggling with the same disease. Grab every opportunity to use your experiences to change a system that may have failed you or made your journey more difficult. This way your difficulties may benefit other patients in the future, by creating a service that is better for future patients.”
Jodie’s closing words, “I want to encourage your readers that no matter what happens, life is worth every day. Don't give up, even when you feel overwhelmed. My disease has created opportunities to speak to media, royalty and politicians. I have written my story in a world-wide book and now I am now an Ambassador for 2 major organizations. Some of the world's top royalty have read my story: Her Majesty The Queen of England, Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Denmark (Mary Donaldson), Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton) and also The governor-general of Australia (Ms. Quentin Bryce). With medical support, you can do anything and everything. Live life to the fullest."