When Sally Corvini was just 13, she noticed something was amiss with her health. He ankles were swollen and she was putting on weight.
A doctor put her on a strict diet but that didn't help her — at all.
“I came down with glandular fever later in the year which lead to blood tests and the eventual realization that my kidneys were suffering,” Sally explains. “I was always expected to return to full health until I was 17 and my kidney specialist announced that I’d be eventually starting dialysis. I just turned 19 when I first dialysed.”
Then came the transplants.
The Australian-born has had two transplants, one in 1991 from a deceased donor and then in 1996 from her mother.
The impact on her life has been tremendous, and at times, debilitating.
“The older I get, the more it impacts my day to day life,” Sally explains. “A lifetime of being immunosuppressed affects the body and I need regular surgery these days to keep cancer at bay. Daily I have about 20 tablets to take and I’m never not tired. Weird, random things happen to me often too like bone breaking spontaneously or massive bruising for no reason. I have been in constant pain until June this year when surgery corrected that. Anxiety has also been an issue over the years which can make going to work difficult.”
Finding love, also proves to be somewhat problematic.
She says: “It’s impacted my personal life as most men eventually don’t want to be involved. I have also not been able to have children, another deal breaker for many people.”
And there have been times when her health has painted a dark cloud over her life rather than a sunny moment.
“I definitely get down sometimes because of my health and how it’s impacted my life,” she says. “About twice a year I get really down for about 3 weeks but I’ve learned to understand that this too will pass. I had a year of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) a few years ago and that has affected my mental health dramatically for the better. I’m able to remove myself from situations mentally quite easily.”
Resilient and ever the “optimist at heart”, Sally says when she gets down, her “natural direction in life is one of joy and hope.”
“I have an amazing circle of family and friends around me that offer huge support,” she says. “Without that I think I’d find the business of life a lot harder. While I’m not a Buddhist, that and Shintoism give me direction and things seem to make sense when I read teachings. Over the past 6-7 years Art and Literature have also been a huge source of strength.”
With a love of art, travel, nature, beauty, prose, and people who are passionate about their lives, Sally embraces every moment of her life with gusto.
“I feel happy that I have led an independent life, I’ve bought a house, I’ve traveled extensively,” she says. “I feel super proud that last year, I reached 20 years of my transplant as it’s such a big job managing it. I never thought I would get this far.”
So what does Kindness and Hope mean to her?
She explains: “Kindness and hope are an important part of my day, every day. The world is changing, kindness is undervalued and yet it can make such a difference to people’s lives. Everyone wants to be appreciated, everyone.
“I have a lot of hope that I will live long enough to reap the benefits of medical advancements with transplants. Now that my transplant is 20 years old I’m aware that my time is possibly limited. I always make plans, I always say yes because hope drives me.'
Adding, “My advice to others would be to grab life and opportunities as they’re presented and live a full life because you never know how your life may change. If you get a chance take it and if it changes your life, let it.”
Sally has asked for a donation to be made to the Save the Children Australia.