My family moved to Canberra when I was seven and I completed my schooling there. When I was 19 I did the big Overseas Experience that was de rigueur for the time, travelling to England and Europe. Afterwards I married a graduate of the Royal Military College Duntroon and was an Army wife for 17 years.
Having tried unsuccessfully for several years to have a baby, we adopted a son and then a daughter, both as very young babies. Seven years later I gave birth to our genetic child but sadly this daughter was born with a rare incurable genetic condition. When she was three my husband resigned from the Army so we could stay close to the best services to help her reach her potential and we went into business.
The marriage ended in 1988 and I raised my youngest as a single parent. I was diagnosed with cancer when she was 16. After a terrible year involving surgery and chemotherapy I was so worn down that I slid into depression and suffered panic attacks and episodes of extreme anxiety. I was terrified about what would happen to my daughter if I died but I couldn’t stop thinking I was doomed.
I ran away to Sydney, sending her to live with her father and step-mother. A year later I was able to bring her to Sydney where she has lived independently from her family ever since, supported by an organization that helps people with disabilities to lead independent lives. We both now know that she can survive without me.
Since that challenging time I have built a new life for myself that is better than anything I could ever have imagined. I studied counselling and now have my own private practice specialising in grief and loss. I also facilitated weekly therapeutic support groups with the Life Force Cancer Foundation for 14 years. I retired from this role in March 2012.
I was appointed as a professionally trained civil marriage celebrant in 2004 and still love being involved with my many couples as together we create their unique and personal wedding ceremonies.
During my mid-teens I wrote romantic stories all the time but when I was 16 I received a rejection letter from a women’s magazine. I was puzzled because I hadn’t submitted anything to them, but my mother had. This meant she had been through my private things and I was devastated by such a betrayal of trust. Despite the fact that the magazine editor had praised my writing and encouraged me to continue, for the next 40 years I hardly wrote anything more creative than a shopping list.
In the mid 90s I started to write poetry then took some creative writing courses and after having a memoir of my time during and after cancer published, have now settled into my favourite type of writing – stories for women about relationships, life and love.
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