Feature article Health

Heart Foundation says women over 45 need Heart Health Check


IN December 2018, what started as heartburn within minutes became mortally serious for Sharon Kort. She began to lose feeling in her arms while filling her car with petrol after a hard gym session. “By the time they were making my coffee I was dry reaching; the lady behind the counter said I was grey [and] really dripping in sweat,” Mrs Kort said. “She just mouthed ambo to me and I just remember nodding.” In the ambulance, paramedics tried to fix monitors to her skin but the sweat was so profuse that nothing would stick. “Even then I was thinking…

Cancer Council works towards making Gabi’s wish come true


TODAY is Daffodil Day and Dawn Cunningham, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, is on a mission. She is honouring her late son and mother’s memory, who both passed away from cancer, to encourage Australians to donate to Cancer Council to fund life-saving cancer research. Ms Cunningham, from Torquay in Victoria, lost her only son Gabi to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was just 14-years-old. “He was taken away from me after only 14 years,” she said. “It was much too short a time, but they were the most precious years of my life.” She finds August difficult as it is…

Aphasia: a little known speech condition that cripples lives


Speech Pathology Week, from 22-28 August, aims to raise awareness of communication disability for the 1.2 million Australians who struggle to converse. SEVENTY-year-old David George*, a retired naval architect of 45 years, suffered a stroke during his sleep.   The next morning he was on the phone with his son. His wife, Michaela, noticed his garbled speech and rushed him to hospital. “I experienced no pain,” Mr George said. “I just had a sense of total confusion. I didn’t know who I was or where I was; it was very scary.” Mr George now suffers from aphasia, which affects a…

You don’t have to have an addiction to have an overdose


SUSAN* had a two-year-old daughter when her partner died from an accidental overdose 20 years ago. Every accidental overdose death is preventable is the mantra of International Overdose Awareness Day, an annual global event held on Tuesday 31, August. The Day is for people like Susan who have lost a loved one, friend or family member to remember them and to work on reducing the stigma associated with drug-related deaths. Susan said it was tough to deal with her devastating loss and lied about his death, saying he was killed in a car accident. “The thing I’ve found over the…

Hope for healing anxiety lies in therapy, not just medication


ANXIETY Disorders Week, which commenced on Wednesday, 4 August, aims to raise awareness of these debilitating conditions and learn from people who suffer how best to offer help, support, and treatment. Lyn English is a long-time health and mental health consumer consultant. In 2020, she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for years of service to groups like the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia, having contributed as a board member since 2004. Lyn’s decades of selfless dedication to the cause of high-quality, dignified mental healthcare make her a living national treasure. But what sets her apart…

The humiliation of prolonged pain needs to be better understood


MORE than fifty percent of people living with chronic pain feel stigmatised because of their condition, according to new data released today by Chronic Pain Australia. For Rachel O’Dowd, a slight twist of the ankle led to 18 months of chronic pain. A persisting limp led the mother-of-three through doctors’ and specialists’ offices until she was finally diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Rachel said at night, the foot would periodically go bright, bright red right up my leg like a sock. “I tried a lot of medications none of them worked,” she said. Senior Research Fellow at Curtin…

Fundraising concert for World Suicide Prevention Day announced


THE suicide rates for Indigenous children in Australia are amongst the highest in the world. Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged between 15 and 24 have almost a four times higher suicide rate than non-Indigenous people of the same age. The Westerman Jilya Institute for Indigenous Mental Health has gathered together a star-studded line-up of Indigenous artists to perform on World Suicide Prevention Day, Friday, September 12, at Winthrop Hall at the University of Western Australian in Perth, to raise funds to combat these alarming numbers Renowned musicians Gina Williams AM and Guy…

Simple steps save mothers and babies lives


FORTY Monash University students recently paid $5 each for the privilege of packing six items into two hundred plastic zip lock bags. A piece of gauze, a plastic sheet, some cotton cord, a bar of soap, pair of gloves and a sharp blade are not just any items. Collectively, they constitute the contents of a Clean Birthing Kit that the Birthing Kit Foundation Australia supplies to pregnant women living in rural communities and low-resource settings worldwide. Harsh Patel, president of TeamMed, a student-led organisation that provides Monash students with opportunities to experience and contribute to global health, said one of…

“You’re just in a world of pain”: Meet the people tackling mens’ mental health in the bush


At the age of 22, Warren Davies became a farmer. He had moved to the Goulburn Valley as a teenager to help his parents run a dairy farm and after many years of farm work, he decided to buy a few hundred acres adjacent to his parents’ property. “I knew that I was going into business with the bank, because they lent me the money,” said Davies. “But I also had a silent business partner in Mother Nature. She was going to throw me some curve balls and have probably the biggest impact on my business and on my mental…