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Turning 60 -a time for reflection?

10 August, 2016


mum and me

Me turned 6o, Mum 91!!, Jill photo-bombing in the background

What’s worse than turning 60? Well my Mum (who is 91) reckons it’s having the youngest child turn 60! I’d say she had a point except that everyone at my family party reckoned that Mum was spectacular – engaged, beautiful coiffured hair (the Queen copies her style – she is younger than Mum after all), and drove herself too and from the party – so independent in a rather exaggerated way.

So my new goal is to aim to be at my youngest child’s (Michael who is 25) 60th in 35 years, drive myself there, be able to remember my children’s names and still have hair!

family photo at 60th     cakes 60th

My kids and husband conspired to have a surprise party, but Bob folded under the pressure of keeping the secret and was looking much less stressed after he came clean on the birthday plans. I was instructed to do nothing and complied by going to one of my favourite pursuits at 5.15pm, (the witching hour for babies and party preparations when one realises there is way too much to do before the guests arrive) by going to a dance class at the studio with my second family- my dancing mates. As usual I left the dance class with a smile on my face and humming Michael Buble.

dancing class ailsa

(Just to let you know that this is Ailsa receiving some flowers and champers from me for being the most regular client at Studio194 since it opened on August 4th 2015. She has been to virtually every dance class and a Pilates class every Tuesday since we opened and she herself says she feels fantastic for all that dancing exercise (it’s not really exercise, its just fun) and Pilates under the watchful eye of Monique, (as one client described of Monique- “You can run but you can’t hide from Monique”)

But the best part about my birthday was, that everyone complied with my request to not give me a present and to rather give a donation to HADA. There may have been the odd bottle of beautiful champers, some glorious flowers or a dinner voucher to go along with the donation but people have been very generous to HADA. Now with recent stories in the media about a very well-known charity having considerable amounts of money siphoned off for dubious purposes, it is wonderful to know that when my kids, my mother, my friends and staff all donated to HADA, 100% went to funding operations to help women with fistulas and prolapse in Africa.

Recently I received an email of thanks from HADA showing the amazing work that the Medical Training in Africa crew are performing while utilizing the money raised below.

fistula repair operations July 2016

Hello friends,
Judith Goh, Hannah Krause, Jackie Smalldridge, GI Tan, John Taylor and I have just returned from Uganda, where we did a prolapse and fistula camp at Kagando hospital. Once again we were welcomed by a large group of ladies with big smiles and cheery dispositions – all the more so after we were able to help improve their previously desperate lifestyles. The ladies in the above photo have all had VVF repairs – as evidenced by their indwelling catheters running into their brightly coloured buckets. They are now dry – most of them having spent months to years being continually wet and smelly. Their joy is obvious!
We operated on 52 patients with prolapse, 29 patients with Vesico-Vaginal fistulas, 26 patients with Recto-Vaginal fistulas and 10 others with causes of incontinence requiring less major surgery. In addition, one patient presented with a large rectal prolapse, and one with a huge thyroid mass (she had a lump – just at the wrong end of her body!!). We were able to fund their operations by the general surgeon at the hospital. 19 patients were managed on the ward with conservative medical treatment for their incontinence (all after previous successful closure of their fistula).
The total cost of the camp was approximately AU$46,000. Thanks to your overwhelming generosity, we have been able to fund this camp and will be able to return to Kagando in December to conduct another prolapse and fistula camp.
These women are deeply grateful for your generosity and wish to thank you for changing their lives.
We will be heading off again in mid-December, and will keep you informed of our work.
Kind regards,
Barbara Hall

Now that is inspiring. I am way too sookie to go to Africa – worrying about silly things like parasites and the like but these devoted doctors head off 2, 3, 4 times a year and just completely change these women’s lives. Extraordinary!

So I reckon the least I can do is encourage friends and relatives to give a gift of giving.

Try and spread the idea. #giveagiftofgiving

While Tuesday 9th August was a very happy time, the period before was actually very sad with the passing of my sister’s partner, John O. I think sometimes in the hurley burley of life we can take things for granted and I know that John had much more living to do and felt cheated at losing his battle with cancer at only 68. And after listening to the tributes at his funeral from his family, friends and work colleagues, I know they feel cheated. What I know most is that every day my sister will miss her soul mate, who she sadly only met in later life – because they were truly a wonderful match, joined at the hip with their views on politics, social justice, Noosa and good food.

Whilst I have known John for 16 years, he was such a humble man, that I only really pieced together his life achievements once he actually passed away. His work with indigenous affairs in the Northern Territory, Alice Springs and Melbourne were at the coal face, the micro level- whilst still holding beliefs that the big picture issues must be addressed. When others were retiring at 65, John recognized that the young and disadvantaged needed a voice when facing drug charges and returned to study further to attain counselling accreditation and began a new career up at Noosa, while also soaking up some sun and walks on the sand with Lynne.

What I know is that Friday was a special day when John’s loved ones and friends gathered together – hugged, laughed, cried, listened to superb music – Cold Chisel, Leonard Cohen and the haunting music Bunyarra Mockva – The Voices of Red Heart as we watched the photographic memories. It was a special day which I know John would have loved.

Vale John O.




  1. Meg Elcome permalink

    Hi Sue, I have just enjoyed your late night post. Congratulations on reaching 60, seems we celebrate at the same time, while I turned 70!!! Trust me, while I don’t feel any different, it seems weird and a bit of a mystery. How good you have your Mum as a role model. I lost my mother quite young, so I hold by Dad as my role model.

    Here’s to our next few decades! Cheers, Meg Elcome.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Happy birthday Sue

  3. Susan Filmer permalink

    Happy own ‘New Year’ to you and your mom! I am intrigued and completely ignorant of HADA so am off to investigate and add to it! If any of your blog followers want to read an inspirational and inspiring book on the subject, “The Hospital by the River” is magnificent – the story of the Hamlins, Australian gynaecologists, who went to Ethiopia and started a hospital treating fistulas. Reg Hamlin has died but Catherine is still there (was last time I looked!) and I think, in her 80s ….. a truly magnificent story of a lifelong journey which the Hamlins have ensured will continue once they have gone. A beautiful read. Thanks for your blog!

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