I grew up on a farm in country Victoria, surrounded by bush which is where I go to reinvigorate myself. Moving beyond Australian shores early in my twenties lead to a love of Nepal and India and ultimately to marrying a man from Afghanistan in Sydney in 1997 and having two beautiful daughters. My love of language and connection became my vocation, first as a speech pathologist for six years, then as an English language teacher and trainer to overseas students and more recently to refugees and migrants.
Our youngest daughter Ari was diagnosed in June 2015 with a bilateral frontal brain tumour. So began many months of intense intervention. I’ll never forget our first visit with neurosurgeon Dr Charlie Teo and him talking to us dead straight, no softeners. Do nothing and Ari would be unlikely to survive to the end of the year. Do a biopsy and take the path of chemo and radiotherapy, and medical intervention will become part of our life. He also said it was very unlikely that Ari’s short-term memory would ever come back.
We took the second option, as to do nothing was not even a choice.
I’m very glad that I hadn’t had much lived experience of what this kind of intervention meant. Ignorance allowed us to simply survive by putting one foot in front of the other. The early outcomes for Ari were that her short term memory was lost, her communication was greatly compromised, and executive functions like planning and organising were very limited. At that stage Ari, once a talented runner, could barely sustain a jog for 20 metres and was unable to sit still for more than 5 minutes. But, finally, at the end of 2015 she was tumour free.