1. Tell us your name and something about yourself
My name is Jodie Guerrero and I have fought and survived Lymphoma twice, dealt with medical negligence and lived with the disability from the experience. I am now a consumer advocate and I’m using my story to raise awareness about a variety of social and patient issues. My full story and blogs are all written down in my personal blog called www.jodiesjourney.com.
2. Give us a brief description of what your blog is all about and tell us what makes your blog unique from other blogs out there.
My story is quite simply incredible actually. I searched for 11 months trying to find a diagnosis for a variety of crippling symptoms that was taking over my body from 2005 to 2006. I consulted 7 doctors, went to 21 different doctor visits and 2 alternative practitioners to seek assistance and I was continually told I was fine. In the end even my family started questioning my symptoms, they thought I was just making things up, that maybe I was a ‘hypochondriac.’ It was only when I decided to present at a major hospital ER that I was finally diagnosed and admitted. I had cancer all through my right hand side my body. The cancer was eating through my nerves, bones and muscle which caused me tremendous and made my life intolerable. It took 10 weeks before I was admitted to hospital! This was the beginning of the journey, at only 35 years old I was battling the disease of a 70-80 year old and it was an incurable form of Lymphoma. After 63 doses of chemo, luckily enough I’m still here. My final diagnosis was non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, B-Cell, Follicular, and Stage 4.
3. Do you remember the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
Yes, whenever I’m swimming and floating on my back above the water. I could always hear myself breathing which always reminds me why I have fought so hard to stay alive.
4. Decisions are being made all the time. Now the question is: Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
Decision is my middle name. I have set myself forward and made some big decisions on my own, even without the support of my family. Living for life and fighting for life has taught me some very valuable lessons. It has now shaped who I am as a person and made me more grateful for every moment that steps into my journey. My struggles to get an initial diagnosis highlighted major flaws in the medical systems. I reached out for help and as a result but I didn’t have any good responses so I was determined to find out why my diagnosis was so delayed and why my symptoms could not gain the attention of the doctors I sought help from. I took my case to a state health commission here in Australia who investigated – and after an almost 2 year deep look into my desperate struggle, my chief GP was finally disciplined. Although I got no apology from him I was at least able to fix a problem and take a stand for other patients to know that they too, can advocate for themselves and for the system. It was never about revenge, it was all about turning a broken health system into a more positive and safe environment for other patients. The full story about my case is documented here: http://www.jodiesjourney.com/jodies_case
5. What would you do differently if you knew nobody else would judge you?
Lots of people have judged me and told me I would fail – I have proved them wrong anyway. If I had I would never have pushed forward with my previous battles. I believe that I’ve always been a strong person from the outset, able to push through and persevere where others feel like quitting and don’t follow through. My strong faith in God has been everything to me and my family. Without that faith and my understanding of a promised eternity, I may have struggled with the weight of my diagnosis and prognosis and I could have descended into an unrecoverable mental illness or I could have even taken my own life. But just when I felt like giving up I was always reminded of my key foundations and what I believed in, as a disciple and as a woman and mother who needed to live for her husband and 2 kids. I remember being alone in the hospital, looking out of my room at the city lights, planes coming into land and on the horizon I saw this church with a large lit red cross across the city. That cross reminded me that I was not yet dead, but very much alive and able to carry on.
6. What would you say is your personal mission in life?
I feel that because of my whole journey I am no longer blind to the true meaning of why we are placed on earth. I always knew there was a special mission for me, but like most people- prior to the disease –I was simply ignorant and not interested in the suffering of others. Understanding not just my own suffering but the various kinds of pains others go through on a daily basis has gifted me with a new empathy and care for more patients worldwide. I now know that everything I feel and touch and see are gifts and blessings and that life itself is a gift from God. I am here for a purpose and that purpose is now coming into fruition.
7. Are you scared of ‘not making t’ and achieving your dreams?
No, not at all, I am achieving my dreams as we speak, I am ‘making it’ despite the odds.
8. Take a pick: Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
I would like to never lose all my old memories, especially with my husband and 2 children. The past is too treasured.
9. If you wake up one morning and discover that you have somehow switched genders, what’s the first thing you would shout and Why?
Oh no! What’s that??
10. Let’s say you’re currently looking at a mirror right now, what do you do see and what would you like to say?
I see a young woman who has been through the worst of the worst, but still looks younger than all her peers even after mountains of ill health and treatment. I would like to say that I am proud of what I have been able to do, even when walls have stood before me.