True to her favourite saying, ‘today counts… make the most of it’, 87-year old great grandmother, Audrey Thompson, dons her clown clothes every week and goes out.
“The minute I start putting on my clown clothes I feel good. I’m very happy doing this while I can still walk around,” said Audrey. Audrey first decorated her walking stick with tinsel and bells when she adopted her alter ego, Miss Sunshine the Clown, in 2006. At the time she was a volunteer at Mogo Zoo, near where she lives at Tomakin (NSW), and thought a clown would liven up the children’s parties there.
In May 2009, Audrey had to give up clowning around for a couple of years after being diagnosed with myeloma.
“It hit me quite suddenly,” she said. “I was so used to jumping in my boat and going up the river to fish for flathead and suddenly I didn’t have any energy to do anything.
“I was 82 and when you get old you get tired, but I could hardly drag one leg after the other.
“I went to my GP and after a blood test he sent me to the oncologist who said ‘I think you have blood cancer’.
”Not only did Audrey have myeloma, she also was anaemic and had kidney failure.
“This was a triple whammy as I have been healthy and well all my life,” she said.
She started displaying her favourite inspirational sayings around her home that looks out over the Tomakin River.
“They’re plastered all over the house – on the cupboards and curtains. My place is like swinging doors with so many good friends who come to visit.
These optimistic messages helped Audrey immeasurably as she went through treatment that made her “terribly ill”.
“I couldn’t look at food for well over a year and went from 58kgs to 48kgs. I couldn’t eat or move around. I was just a mess. I needed help with everything then.
”During this particularly tough time, Audrey’s three adult children took turns at caring for her.
“Slowly I picked up. I decided ‘I can do this, I’m not going to let this beat me’. I’m so stubborn – I won’t let things get me down.“I’ve transformed from the dead duck I was 13 months ago when I even arranged my own funeral, but obviously I’m not there yet – life’s too good!
“I live each day one day at a time, say all these things to myself like ‘count your blessings’ and I grab on to little small things that others perhaps wouldn’t notice.
“I always say ‘something wonderful is going to happen today.”Sometimes Audrey even goes to the Leukaemia Foundation’s blood cancer support meetings dressed as Miss Sunshine!
“I can’t get too low because I won’t let myself. I sit down and have a cup of tea and read these books I have,” said Audrey.
“I’m grateful I wake up every day and I stay as well as I can.” Her treatment finished in late-2012 and last year she found her “feet was getting itchy”.
“I had been well for over a year and I needed to go somewhere,” said Audrey.
During the 30 years prior to developing myeloma she had travelled extensively – to Asia, Africa, China, India, Nepal, Greenland, Iceland and Antarctica (several times). She also was an avid bushwalker and fisherwoman.
So last November she went on a 10-day cruise around the Fijian islands with Laraine even though she’d already been to Fiji four times.
“I like sea travel and I’ve always had my own boat.
“I need to have something to strive for all the time. I’ve always had an aim – to be a clown again, to travel again.
“At the moment my next project is to get back into (and out of) a canoe this summer – just to prove I can. It’s that stubborn streak in me.
“Even if they have to tip me out when we get back to shore!”
From Myeloma News published in April
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