Home' Capricornus Quarterly : CQ April 2017 Contents Linda Curtis was enjoying a busy yet
uncomplicated family life in Blackwater
with her husband, A ndrew, and two
young children, Hudson and Lainy.
This life changed dramatically in
Februar y 2008 when A ndrew, in his
mid thirties, was diagnosed with
Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
Just nine months later, after a brave
fight, Andrew passed away.
Linda, a teacher aide at RGS Primary,
has captured this difficult time in
a book she has w ritten: Our Stem of
Hope: The Andrew Curtis Story.
The book evolved from writings in a diary
she and her husband started when Andrew
travelled to India for a round of embryonic
stem cell therapy. The procedure, at that
time, was not available in Australia.
“W hilst receiving the treatment we
noted improvements and he regained
strength and movement,’’ Linda said.
Andrew would visit India for a second
time, his health worsening. The diary
provided an ongoing record for the
extended family also, keeping notes on
doctor and physiotherapy appointments
and medication requirements.
Lainy was just 5 (now Year 9)
and Hudson 7 (now Year 10).
“I wrote this story for them,’’ said Linda,
who admits the process has taken years,
having revisited her notes many times.
“At the end of last year I had it there and
thought either this is going to be it or I
will do something about it and share it.”
“ Neither of the kids have read it yet.
They are happy it’s been done and I
spoke to them before approaching
anyone to publish the book because
it is a very personal story.
“It’s a year in the life and it’s not all
bells and whistles and fabulousness. It’s
the most terrifying and vulnerable year
of our life on show and it’s a very true
account of what we lived with ever y day.’’
While this started as Linda’s personal
stor y she hopes some messages
can resonate w ith readers.
“Life is precious and don’t put things
off because you don’t know what’s going
to happen tomorrow,’’ Linda said.
“I also hope it raises awareness. The
nor mal ever yday things don’t stop
when you’re dealing with a terminal
illness. It’s a day to day account of what
it’s like and the obstacles that arise
and the relationships people have.”
Linda can’t pinpoint the exact
moment Andrew contracted MND
but looking back the signs of extreme
fatigue and slurred speech were
indications something was not right.
“I look at MND as the umbrella with all
the different symptoms underneath that.
People might have var ying symptoms
and severity, but it’s difficult because
there’s nothing concrete to compare
individual cases to,’’ Linda said.
Once diagnosed with MND, Linda
and Andrew’s extended families
rallied around them and Linda admits
she could not have got through the
past years w ithout their support.
“ Everything was scary and daunting
and we made an enormous number
of life changing decisions in a short
space of time,’’ Linda said.
“ We moved jobs, moved towns, moved
schools.... I remember coming here
to RGS, having the interview and
know ing they offered Prep to Grade 12
was a clincher for us. The kids needed
stability and the School was amazing.’’
Talking about these memories still evokes
tears, but Linda k nows A ndrew would
be proud of her and their children.
“I’m a very different person to who I was
before this happened. You don’t realise
the strength you have until you have to
have it. Sometimes I just thought I need
to keep going because the kids have
already lost one parent,” Linda said.
“He was the bravest person I ever
met and until the day he died he was
always thinking about ever yone else.
He took everything in his stride and
that helped give us strength.’’
Linda and her children w ill
forever work through the processes
of their changed lives.
“I have done a lot of things I never
would have imagined doing and my
experience has certainly exposed me
to many things and set me on a very
different life trajectory than what I
thought I would have. It’s also made
me a stronger person,’’ Linda said.
“It’s been hell and as time goes on it’s
not something you get over, you just learn
to live with it. We still talk about him all
the time, but we’ve learnt to be a team of
three. It’s nice what we have now but it has
taken a long time for us to get there.”
Linda recently signed
a contract to have
her book published.
For more information
Linda at lcurtis@
Nearly a decade ago Linda Curtis’s life changed dramatically. Today, the RGS Teacher Aide and her family are
sharing their story, with Rachael McDonald, so others can learn about living with a terminally ill loved one.
The Curtis family today.
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