What was it that made you want to get into medicine?
Throughout my sporting days, I met many incredible doctors who helped hold our injured overworked bodies together. Following sport, having (now half a dozen!) of my own children, several miscarriages and a cervical cancer scare, my love for women’s health emerged. For 10 years now my passion has revolved around Obstetrics and Gynaecology. I will never forget the first time I helped another woman birth her beautiful child or held the hand of another as she learned her pregnancy was not continuing. These moments are life changing.
How did you find studying medicine? Is it as demanding as it seems?
Studying medicine was both an incredible challenge and a life highlight. The first hurdle was getting the marks to be accepted into the gruelling course. It took two years to realise this goal and the day I got my acceptance letter I shed happy tears. It was a five-year course that took me seven, as I squeezed in another Olympics, two little kids, my autobiography, a second research degree and innated my masters in Reproductive Medicine - totally crazy I know!
You're also an ambassador for the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation. How did that partnership come about?
In the middle of my fertility journey to have a second child (as a solo mum via sperm donation), I was told to do the routine cervical screening test. Scarily mine came back showing cell abnormalities (high grade dysplasia). After further testing and biopsies I was told I could progress with my pregnancy quest but required yearly screening. My lack of knowledge in a common issue women face made me guess many women would be similar and I wanted to change that...
...I found the ACCF, who awareness and funds for cervical cancer and offered to join them. Six years later, we have filmed school videos to educate kids, travelled to the Philippine’s to screen and promote HPV vaccination (the virus causing 98 per cent if cervical cancers) and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. I ended up having to have surgical treatment for persistent changes in my cervix. I was one of the lucky ones and it saved my life, not all women have the same outcome.
What would you like to educate women about most?
I want to make women feel proud of their bodies but also aware of times in their life when it will change. Lets get women talking about taboo topics like post-partum incontinence, prolapse, miscarriage and vaginal dryness. Demystify the world of fertility medicine, endometriosis, pelvic pain solo parenting and egg freezing. Everything about women’s health inspires me.
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