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Tag: reflections

Professor Anna Nowak tells us what being a mum means to her

Having a busy working life and kids has meant that my time is either work or family, there’s not much ‘me’ time. Even though the weeks and weekday evenings are busy with work, I ‘down tools’ on the weekend and spend time doing what all mums do. So I get pretty grumpy if I have any fixed work commitments on the weekend as I consider it to be family time, now spending time with my older parents too.

My kids are 17 and 21 now, so although they are extremely independent, I’m still called on for ‘adulting’ lessons on a regular basis, and to pay for petrol and read essays. As my kids have got older, it has been a wonderful thing to see them achieving excellence where I have no ability at all. My son is a triathlete and a wonderful clarinet player. My daughter is a talented artist and can speak and write mandarin Chinese. I can’t do any of those things, and it’s such a thrill to see them doing things I could never hope to do!  

As a role model for my kids, I hope to show them what self-mastery, service, compassion, and integrity look like. Nobody in our family is perfect, but I’m glad they’ve both inherited my work ethic.

Anna Nowak

Anna also has a beautiful role model – to some Emeritus Professor Margaret Nowak, but to Anna, ‘Mum’.

What motivates me? – on our 7th anniversary our Co-Founder reflects on how it all began and where we are today

I’m often asked questions like “Are you doing this for your Dad?” or told, “Your Dad would be so proud.” As much as I appreciate the sentiment and know that he would be, this is bigger than us.

As we reach our seventh anniversary, I’ve taken the time to reflect on how it all began and where Reflections is now. 

Our motives were simple. Dad was driven to encourage others struggling with asbestos disease and raise funds for research into a cure, even though he realised it would come too late to save him. My motivation was around preventing others from going through what we were. 

It was a proud moment when we handed over the big cheque to Professor Bruce Robinson on Dad’s birthday in 2016, only weeks before he passed. With ongoing ties to the National Centre for Asbestos Related Disease and the world-class medical research being undertaken, it was exciting to hear the recent announcement of the WA Comprehensive Cancer Centre that will benefit so many.

Knowing what I know now about asbestos, every time I see or hear of a natural disaster; devastating bushfires; the mishandling of or complacency around asbestos materials, my thoughts go straight to the potential impact in years to come. As a new diagnosis causes them to look back and the realisation dawns. The fact that it was avoidable. The ‘if only’s. The inevitable loss and sadness. 

It was good to hear of the recent closure of Wittenoom, but I’m concerned this only reinforces the misconception that asbestos is a thing of our past. The legacy of asbestos will be with us for a long time and there is still a lot to do to ensure people understand the risk and do what they can to prevent exposure. Working with a dedicated team of people who share my vision, is invigorating.

“The past seven years have been a culmination of good times and bad. From overwhelming sadness to elation and joy. But none of it would have happened without YOU… the people who support the work we do in reducing the impact of asbestos on the community. “

The past couple of years have brought so much growth to Reflections along with the inevitable highs and lows. The development of our Strategic Plan – our Mission, Vision and Values, all reinforcing our original intent; the announcement that WA is the first state with mandatory asbestos awareness training for trainees; the privilege of walking alongside and bringing hope to people facing a seemingly hopeless situation as they come to terms with a mesothelioma diagnosis, and the honour of standing by their side as they say goodbye to their soulmate.  

Together we ARE making a real difference… and that is what motivates me. Thank you! 

If you would like to know more or find out how you can get involved, I would love to hear from you.

Jo Morris – Reflections’ Co-Founder and Managing Director

All donations over $2 are tax deductible and will be used to reduce the impact of asbestos and bring hope to those affected.

What a difference it makes – a year on, our Support Network Coordinator provides insight

There is no way to positively spin a terminal cancer diagnosis, especially when people haven’t heard of it and struggle to pronounce it.

Providing accurate, up-to-date information, in the context of an individual diagnosis can help people understand the reality of their mesothelioma diagnosis and avoid the often contradictory, inaccurate, and disheartening information pitfalls of the internet. 

Mesothelioma rates in Western Australia are among the highest in the world. Affecting both men and women with ages ranging from 25 to 90+ years old, no one is immune from the effects of asbestos.

I walk alongside, offering support and guidance to alleviate anxiety, and the isolation felt when coming to terms with the loss of health, independence, income, intimacy, and future. It is still hard sometimes and that is okay. Being authentic is important, it gives people permission to be real and messy in tough times. 

“I’ve walked in those shoes, fallen through the cracks, felt those losses, experienced anxiety and survived to come out the other side.”

Working with the mesothelioma community honours my husband and keeps him a part of our everyday life. My role with Reflections enables me to use my nursing skills and lived-experience in a way that aligns with my values. Be kind, make a difference, do good things, laugh often and eat cake! It is a view shared by the whole team. 

Our not-for-profit structure allows us to prioritise taking the time to understand individual needs and challenges. We work closely with families, health providers and agencies across Australia and the world to ensure safe, easy, and affective relationships. Our facilitated, fortnightly support groups provide opportunities to share experiences, reassurance, and community. This is especially important as colleagues, family and friends, although well intended, can understandably stumble with what to say or do.

The Reflections community is like a lighthouse. Shining a light for people in their darkest times, letting them know they are not alone, helping them to weather this storm and highlighting the ongoing risk of asbestos to protect future generations.  

If you, or someone you know, are impacted by an asbestos disease and would like to know more or find community with people who truly understand, do not hesitate to get in touch.

Lizz Clarke – Reflections Support Network Co-ordinator

Lizz and Tracey

Steeltoes & Stilettos will return to the runway later this year

The moment we have all been waiting for has finally arrived! We are excited to announce STEELTOES & STILETTOS will be returning to the runway as we once again bring the risk of asbestos to the big stage.

Asbestos has left a devastating legacy in Western Australia with the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world and the most in-situ asbestos of all states. Asbestos can still be found in 1 in 3 Australian homes and every year in Australia there are an estimated 4,000 deaths from past exposure to the deadly material. This landmark event not only increases awareness within industry, but also spreads the message to the wider community.

Tradies register and raise funds for the opportunity to walk the catwalk with a model at the main event to be held in the heart of Perth’s CBD. There are several runway categories representing different trades including electrical, carpentry, masonry, plumbing and finishes. On the night, the red carpet will be rolled out and guests will enjoy drinks and canapés as the top ten fundraising tradies in each category strut their stuff in the hope of being named this year’s Model Tradie of the Year!

Are you a busines owner?
Do you align with the message of asbestos safety?
Few events offer this kind of brand exposure.
If you would like to see your company name up in lights, contact us to find out more. There are a range of opportunities, and we are happy to tailor a package to suit.

Follow the event on Facebook and Instagram and keep an eye out for more information.

Here are some pics from our last event…

“There remains an ongoing danger to our tradies and everyone working on sites where materials containing asbestos are present. Too many people have the impression that asbestos is a thing of the past, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There needs to be greater awareness and education as to the risks involved. Only through ongoing focus in this area will we truly reduce the impact of asbestos-related deaths in our community.”

Dale Alcock – REFLECTIONS AMBASSADOR, Managing Director ABN Group

Jo and Lizz live on 98five radio during Asbestos Awareness Week

Reflections’ Co-founder and Support Coordinator chat with Mike Crichton

During National Asbestos Awareness Week 2021, Jo Morris and Lizz Clarke had a chat with Mike Crichton about the work Reflections does to reduce the ongoing impact of asbestos on the community and support those affected.

“It’s good that you’re here today,” said Mike. “I would have thought this was something for years gone by and that everything is all sorted and safe…”

Follow the link to hear the whole interview.

Reflections’ Lizz Clarke speaks with 7 News

Be safe, be asbestos aware!

Our Support Network Coordinator, Lizz Clarke, speaks with 7 News about why she is invested in reducing the impact of asbestos and mesothelioma on the community.

Reflections bought hope and awareness as Perth lit up blue

Think Twice About Asbestos

National Asbestos Awareness week 2021 was a huge success. And, although the week is over, we would like to remind everyone that asbestos awareness is important year-round.

This year’s campaign asked Australians to Think Twice About Asbestos, reminding home renovators and tradespeople that the danger of asbestos is far from over.

In homes built or renovated before 1990, asbestos can still be found in many places. It was only in December 2003 that asbestos was banned in Australia. Before that, Australia was one of the highest users of asbestos with it being used in over 3000 products.

During COVID-19 we have seen a burst of home improvement activity as people spend extra time in their houses during the pandemic or take the opportunity to invest in their own homes.

There is a significant health threat if fibres are released, become airborne and are then inhaled. Breathing these fibres can cause a range of life-threatening diseases, including asbestosis and terminal cancer, mesothelioma.

Reflections is pleased to be reducing the ongoing IMPACT of asbestos and bringing HOPE to those affected.

“Really enjoyed the empowering message you spoke on radio, Jo and Lizz. Thank you for standing with us all in our mesothelioma journey.”

Geoff and Tracey (Clients)

A big THANK YOU to everyone who attended events during the week, donated to support our work and got out and about in Perth sharing photos of the lights in memory of lives lost and as a reminder to remain vigilant around asbestos.

Well done to Jo and the Reflections team. You did an awesome job in raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos.”

Michael McLean (Reflections Ambassador)

If you are interested in knowing more about the work we are doing or would like to get involved, do not hesitate to reach out and one of our team will get back to you.

Be safe! Be asbestos aware!

Reflections NAAW 2021, reducing impact of asbestos

The effects of 9/11 lives on

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I was only a toddler at the time and I cannot believe how this devastating event lives on all these years later.

In 2015, I was lucky enough to travel to America with my Mum and Dad. Whilst there we visited the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. There is the North and South Pool of where the two buildings once stood (see image below and above) and are now twin reflecting pools with the names of those who died all the way around. The memorial is a tribute of remembrance, honouring the 2,977 people killed at the World Trade Centre site. They are nearly an acre in size and are the largest man-made waterfalls in North America.

Inside the Museum I distinctly remember watching many videos of real footage from 9/11. Watching people jumping out of the buildings to their death was one of the many videos imprinted in my mind. The frantic phone calls were playing over the speakers, along with voicemails left for loved ones to hear their final last words and goodbyes. This brought me to tears. The whole experience was so confronting and overwhelming, I couldn’t have imagined being there on the day of the attack or watching the events uncover on the news.

What’s devastating is the clean-up crew and emergency workers are now suffering significant health issues 20 years after the terrorist attacks. More than 91,000 volunteers and workers were exposed to diverse hazards. As of March 2021, 80,785 of these responders enrolled in the World Trade Centre Health Program. This program was set up to monitor their health and treat those affected since the attack. It was found that 45% of the responders in the health program have conditions that affect the upper digestive tract and airways, 16% have cancer and just under 40% of responders with health issues are aged between 45 and 64. Sadly, 3,439 responders in the health program are now dead, which is far more than the 412 first responders who tragically died on the day of the event.

The death toll is expected to rise rapidly over the coming years as a result of the toxic dust that blanketed New York City when the Twin Towers collapsed. The dust that filled the air that day was full of toxic substances including hundreds of tonnes of asbestos. The US has consumed 31 million metric tonnes of asbestos since 1900, and asbestos remains legal and lethal in the US despite the serious health effects. So, you can only imagine how much asbestos was riddled throughout the Twin Towers. Mesothelioma usually takes 20-50 years to develop and there was a number of responders exposed to asbestos on the day of the attack. Mesothelioma isn’t the only issue though, 352 responders were diagnosed with asbestosis as of 2016. This is a terrible outcome to happen to those who risked their lives and were only trying to help. My heart goes out to all those affected by the events of September 11th 2001.

We’ve got to remember asbestos is not just something of the past. It has affected so many and will continue to, so we have to continue educating and creating awareness. There is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos. With Australia’s DIY culture, young men and women are often unknowingly encountering asbestos during home renovations. Across Australia, asbestos is in 1 in 3 homes. Something as simple as drilling a hole in the wall or letting your kids build a cubby out of old waste can be risky business. Asbestos doesn’t just affect home renovators though. Disaster zones pose a serious threat after bush fires, floods, storms and other disastrous events.

Every year in Australia, an estimated 4,000 people die from the effects of asbestos. Stay safe and educate yourself about asbestos. You don’t want to end up having to pay the price like so many unwillingly have from the collapse of the Twin Towers.

Tiffany Gossage – Reflections Marketing and Communications Assistant

I have come to realise that Asbestos is everywhere… this is my story

Of all the illnesses that I imagined I might get or have with that occasional pain here or there, mesothelioma was certainly not on my radar. Even when told that was what I had, it was hard to take in. How does a country girl from Victoria, who at 21 years of age moves to Perth, contract mesothelioma?

I am 64 years of age, married with 3 adult sons and I was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma on 31st December 2018. This is asbestos-related cancer that develops in the lining of the abdomen. Somewhere, sometime, I have ingested an asbestos fibre.

The only reason I had gone to see a doctor was that I had lost weight. The diagnosis was a shock! Telling my children what I had and the prognosis was one of the most difficult things I have had to deal with.

When or how I was exposed to asbestos is hard to determine. I do know when I was in Victoria the family home had a garage made out of cement sheeting, more than likely asbestos. It had pieces broken from time to time when the cricket balls or footy were accidentally hit or kicked onto the sidewall. Since moving to WA the only exposure I know of is that my husband worked on water drainage pipes, which we have since found out contained asbestos. Coming home with asbestos fibres on his clothes is the closest we can come to my exposure to asbestos.

When first diagnosed with mesothelioma I was put on a cycle of chemotherapy that lasted 24 weeks, from January 2019 until June 2019. It held my meso at bay, but my body needed a break from chemo. I was in pretty good health after this until April 2020. My mesothelioma had spread into my organs namely the liver. I was once again put onto the same chemotherapy drugs that I was on previously, but I was unable to handle them this time around. I became very sick and weak. I lost a few kilos which was disappointing as holding my weight was something I was always trying to do.

My original diagnosis was from 18 months to 3 years and of course, I was hopeful of the 3 years plus if possible. I have reached that 18 months but been told that I will probably only have a few months now. I am on another round of chemotherapy using a different drug. This has been much kinder to my body so we will see if it helps me at all in a month or so when I have another scan.

Asbestos was something that I was aware as I work with the government education department and removing asbestos from schools is ongoing as the need arrives. In saying this I never felt I was in danger at work or any other place. Probably in hindsight a bit complacent.

I have a son who is in the building trade and making sure he is aware of the dangers of asbestos is something I have spoken to him about. I most certainly do not want him going through what I am at the moment.

People need to be informed of the dangers. Since my diagnosis, I have been informed of the many places asbestos is and it has blown me away. Such a danger to people yet it is everywhere.

Carmel

Carmel lost her battle with this disease on 8 September 2020.

If you, or someone you know, are suffering the effects of mesothelioma or would like to know more about the work Reflections is doing to reduce the impact of asbestos on the community, contact us today and one of our team will be in touch.

One Last Christmas, We Got Two!

When Mum received her diagnosis in 2018, she was told “make Christmas count” and so we pulled the family together and made a huge day of it thinking it would be her last.

But true to form, Mum defied the odds and we got to celebrate another family Christmas in 2019, on the beach in Albany, the sun shone and more precious memories were made.

Mum, or Nanny Chris as she was affectionately known by many, contracted mesothelioma years after breathing in asbestos fibres as a child when her dad built the family of nine a new house on the farm in Broomehill. Commonly, the material for building at the time was asbestos, and just as commonly, the children played in the dust and off-cuts to fill in their days. It was not until fifty-odd years later we would learn of the devastating effect those playful days had when, at age sixty-one, Mum was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma.

Mum was exposed to the deadly material in her home and as a child, and from that moment on, never had a chance of living a long life. She sadly died eighteen months after diagnosis at the young age of sixty-two and one exact half. Even though she was young and fit, the disease was too much for her.

Not every person’s meso/cancer journey is the same and although some questions burn in your head for answers, there are often none to give. For instance, Mum was desperate to know the what and hows about her decline and eventual death, but no one would give her or us a definitive answer. I recognise now why; Mum’s journey and end of life were as individual as she was. Although she was not quite capable in the last six months as she had been in life, she was by no means slowing down. There was no slow decline with Mum, there was going okay, plateaued, then a controlled and comfortable sleep before the end of life.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, try not to get caught up in the “what could happen” and live what is happening while you can. That goes for the patient and the family.

It is important for people to hear and share stories of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma to continue to create awareness in the broader community of non-occupational exposure. I had no idea that Mum had played in asbestos as a child or that mesothelioma existed until her diagnosis. Of course, I had heard of asbestosis and the dangers of asbestos, but it was always referenced to a work/professional environment. If we had been more aware and educated, Mum may have recognised or at least questioned her symptoms earlier. Yes, the outcome would have remained the same, but the journey may have been longer.

Article by Natika Quartermaine

Chris lost her battle with mesothelioma in January 2020.

If you, or someone you know, are suffering the effects of mesothelioma or would like to know more about the work Reflections is doing to reduce the impact of asbestos on the community, contact us today and one of our team will be in touch.