It is now May 2014. It was May 2009 when Shania had the first of the two Gardasil shots that ruined her swimming career and her life in the ensuing years. (You can read about that in the links above.)
In 2014, the only obvious legacy from the Gardasil damage is a poor immune system. But we are working on that. Other changes…
This year she has been one of the first to catch the seasonal colds but unlike the past years, the colds have not all gone straight to her chest and given her bronchitis; neither have they hung around for weeks or months. She is bouncing back more quickly, which is a hugely positive sign. And she no longer needs her Asthma puffer either.
It has been said that the effects of the Gardasil vaccine may only last 5 years and that 5 year limitation is every Gardasil victim’s lifeline. Here’s why…
It started last year – obvious signs that something was happening healing-wise. Shania was in 2 major shows one after the other for starters. She had the lead of Mabel in Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Pirates of Penzance’ the first part of the year, and then she went straight into the ensemble of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ for the second part of the year (her idea of relaxation!).
THIS year, 2014, is her final year (year 12) at Senior High School level in Australia. (Next year is University.) This year, the DAY BEFORE THE COMPETITION, the Director of Sports at her college begged and pleaded with her to consider to swim with their relay team at the inter-schools competition, even if she didn’t want to do the individual races, just help them out with the relay events. Apparently one of the swimmers had to drop out at the last minute.
Of course, she said no. She’s had to say no every year since 2009. She hasn’t been in the pool racing since she collapsed in 2009. She hasn’t trained since she tried to go back in 2010 and realized she couldn’t. The mind was willing but the body couldn’t. And now, she’d been out of the pool 4-5 years and this guy wanted her to race?
But he persisted. His argument was that even in her poor condition having not swum or trained for so many years, she was still bound to be better than somebody with none of her background.
Cutting a long story short he wore her down. The College swim team had been training for months and had even gone on a swimming “camp”! Shania’s only “training” for this event was a 40 minute warm up the night before the competition at the local pool. I sat on the sidelines, a very worried mum because the last time she’d been in the pool racing was early 2009.
Next day at the competition at Challenge Stadium she swam in the relay team for the B Division of the College. They put her in first place in this relay team – the first swimmer off the block. To her and everyone else’s surprise, she gave the team a nice lead and a head start over the schools in the other lanes.
The teachers were so impressed they figured they’d put her in their A Division relay team too. They placed her second in the team, meaning she’d be the second swimmer off the blocks. A new experience for her – in her past swimming life she had always been either the first swimmer (to give the team a good lead) or the last swimmer (to catch up if the team wasn’t in first place). But she didn’t care. She was happy to be back in the pool doing what she loved.
So, the A Division relay starts… The first swimmer went in and at the end of the first 50m leg, their team was in 6th place… not a great start… better than 7th or 8th, of course, but hardly inspiring for Shania who had to follow this as the second swimmer.
She dove in and started swimming. She powered up the pool from 6th place, overtaking all the other lanes and when she touched the other end, she’d put her team in first place with a good lead. The Announcer said “Who on earth is THAT!”
The school sport director was celebrating. He knew who it was and he’d seen it all before… albeit many years before!
It also heralded the moment when I finally believed that we were no longer in that tunnel looking at the light at the end… we had passed through it! Shania could not have done what she had if Gardasil was still affecting her. And she couldn’t keep up this timetable either…
This year she is in her final Year 12 of school. She is studying 5 TEE subjects. Her homework schedule has to be seen to be believed! Now she knows why some people only do 3 or 4 TEE subjects… she chose 5. One of them requires filming on weekends and in her precious holiday breaks – Media…
She is also the College Cultural Prefect with additional responsibilities including having to arrange the Year 12 Ball. She is also the lead, Belle, in the College musical production of Beauty and the Beast. She rehearses 2-3 times a week and this includes some Sundays, like tomorrow – from 10 am to 4 pm, and then she comes home and has to knuckle down and do homework and study.
Plus she does a LOT of singing – she has to learn about 7 songs for her exams, plus she recently sang the National Anthem at the Peel region ANZAC Day Memorial Service, and has to rehearse 7 other songs because she is singing at a private soiree later this month. She let piano go but only because she simply couldn’t fit it in!
Every Saturday morning, we drive up into the city a good hour’s drive away for her classical lessons, then zoom back home and then she goes to work from 1 to 5 at a news agency. Sometimes she goes to a babysitting assignment after that. She also goes to the gym once or twice a week. She is burning the candle at both ends trying to study for Year 12 exams and all the assignments she has on her plate, often not getting to bed until midnight or after. In between all this she squeezes in time to see her boyfriend and friends.
Does this sound like someone suffering Gardasil injuries?
Shania had 2 of the 3 Gardasil injections. I believe if she had had the full 3 shots she would not be here today. Things were so bad five years ago, I never believed I’d see this day. Look how far she’s come!
I hope this gives hope to other Gardasil victims that they, too, might also get their lives back eventually… Shania is living proof that it can happen. It HAS happened.