Home' The Canberra Times : Chronicle 24.01.12 Contents THE CHRONICLE, Tuesday, January 25 2011 - 43
Mother’s support inspires
Last year’s Barnardos ACT Australian Mother of the Year winner, Jakelin Verran, hugs her son Kobi.
Picture: Elesa Lee
JAKELIN Verran is an inspiration.
A few years ago she became a
foster mother to her nephew,
Brayden, who was four-months-old
at the time, and then soon after to her
niece, Grace, who was only 28 days
Both were sick and had endured a
difficult start to life, but Mrs Verran
provided them with love, care and
attention as if they were her own
In September 2008 she had her
own baby boy, Kobi, with husband
John. But only a few months later in
February 2009, Mrs Verran found
herself a single mother after Mr
Verran suffered a fatal heart attack
‘‘My kids are the only thing that’s
got me through it,’’ Mrs Verran said.
She said there were only two
options for her at the time.
She could either sit in the corner
and not do anything, or keep going to
raise her three young children who
depended on her.
Mrs Verran chose the latter.
‘‘I have great family and friends,’’
she said. ‘‘I’m very lucky in that
sense.’’ Last year the 27-year-old
was surprised to discover she was a
finalist in the Barnardos ACT Aus-
tralia’s Mother of the Year Awards.
Her sister, Loryn Hunter, had
nominated her secretly by sending a
letter written on behalf of three-year-
Mrs Verran was aware she had
made the shortlist after the organisers
called and read to her Brayden’s
‘‘When they called me, it was a
nice feeling to know someone thinks
you’re special,’’ she said.
‘‘There were a few tears. Reading
what people have written about you
means more than anything else.’’
Mrs Verran said finalists were
asked by the organisers if they were
happy to proceed.
‘‘If people feel they don’t want to
do anything, they don’t have to,’’ she
Mrs Verran joined her fellow
finalists at a special function in
Canberra for the Mother of the Year
to be announced.
Her family and a friend came
along to hear her named the 2010
‘‘I was completely shocked,’’ Mrs
Verran said. ‘‘I didn’t go with any
expectation. There was no time to get
your head around it.’’
Mrs Verran received a number of
gifts as part of her win, including a
framed certificate, a Lindt chocolate
hamper, a flower bouquet, and a
Johnson and Johnson hamper.
She then went on to represent the
ACT as a finalist for the national title
in Sydney, just prior to Mother’s
Mrs Verran urged Canberrans to
nominate a special mum they know
for this year’s Mother of the Year
‘‘I think every mum’s special in
their own way,’’ she said.
‘‘Even just nominating a mum,
taking that time to stop and tell them
you appreciate them and tell them
Nominations for the 2011 Barnar-
dos ACT Australia’s Mother of the
Year awards can be made via the
Barnardos website www.barnardos
.org.au and close January 31, 2011.
Mission to raise
Ovarian cancer survivor Lorraine Stevens urges women to be vigilant with
their health, ahead of Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Picture: Elesa Lee
A SERIOUS pain across Lorraine
Stevens’ lower back saved her life.
She had gone to Melbourne for work
in mid-2008 and felt a severe ache
while at the airport, waiting for her
return flight to Canberra.
‘‘I got on the plane but told the air
attendant I might need some help
getting out,’’ Mrs Stevens said.
‘‘It just happened. I felt a sort of
She saw the doctor the next day and
was told to have an ultrasound.
‘‘I thought okay, I’ll leave it till next
week,’’ Mrs Stevens said. ‘‘But I rang
up and they said, ‘oh we’ve got a
cancellation for tomorrow’, and that
was for Saturday.’’
She was completely shocked at the
result of her pelvic ultrasound, as the
doctor told her she had a mass.
Mrs Stevens discussed the outcome
with her family over the weekend and
received a call from a surgeon in
Sydney first thing Monday morning.
Mrs Stevens was told to ‘‘be in our
rooms by 12 o’clock tomorrow’’.
‘‘You just freeze,’’ Mrs Stevens
said. ‘‘It just set a level of panic
because I was already frightened ... it
was the panic. It’s a bit of an out-of-
Mrs Stevens went into theatre and
had a radical hysterectomy to remove
the cervical cancer mass.
‘‘I just have been very lucky
because since then I have heard just so
many stories of just people who left it
weeks later, or a month later, to even
have an ultrasound ... I could’ve wait-
ed and I have in the past. You put
things off and women do,’’Mrs Ste-
Apart from the pain in her back, she
said she had no definite symptoms to
indicate that something was wrong.
The symptoms she did have
included bloating, the feeling of a full
stomach and needing to go to the toilet,
which can all signal ovarian cancer,
but these are also common indicators
of other less serious illnesses, such as
irritable bowel syndrome. Her family
history also did not suggest she was at
risk of developing the disease.
The surgeon explained to Mrs
Stevens the severe pain was caused by
an internal bleed in the tumour.
‘‘I guess that’s why they acted with
surgery,’’ Mrs Stevens said.
‘‘I’m really lucky because if I’d
waited a month, you just don’t know.’’
Mrs Stevens now has a check-up
every three months with a CA125
She also attends monthly meetings
with OvCan, a small community based
group in Canberra that works to raise
awareness of the symptoms of the
disease and to provide support to
women affected by it and their friends
Mrs Stevens said OvCan was hoping
to educate doctors, so symptoms
would not be dismissed because they
were related to menopause or simply
‘‘The main thing I want to do is to
get out to doctors and get them
educated,’’ she said.
‘‘What I’ve learnt in here, most
women tend to go to a doctor with one
of the symptoms at some stage.’’
February marks Ovarian Cancer
Awareness month, a national cam-
paign to highlight the symptoms of the
disease and to raise funds for research
The last Wednesday in February is
Teal Ribbon Day, and all Australians
are urged to purchase a ribbon from
Ovarian Cancer Australia, the nearest
Chemmart Pharmacy, Spotlight, or
Napoleon Perdis concept stores to
show support for raising awareness of
Mrs Stevens’ message for any
woman who is concerned about their
symptoms is simple.
‘‘If it persists, go to your GP and
demand a pelvic ultrasound,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s not as though you’re going to
demand it every time ... just demand it
because you know it’s worth know-
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