Thalidomide survivor Trish Jackson (’79) shared her inspiring journey with business professionals, St Margaret’s staff, alumni and students at the final Professional Women’s Network Breakfast for 2019.
Trish is one of 10,000 babies born with several birth defects because her mother was given a sample packet of the drug Thalidomide, a supposedly ‘safe’ drug, during her pregnancy. She was born with no arms, six little fingers and multiple holes in her heart.
Her story is one of true resilience.
Trish told of the bullying, ridicule and discrimination she has endured throughout her lifetime.
Despite this almost daily sufferance, Trish maintains a positive approach to life and lives by the motto: “People told me I never would, but I say I could, I can, and I still do.”
From a young age, Trish was told she couldn’t do anything, that because she was disabled there was no future.
Ironically, Trish would later work in the health department’s pharmaceutical section – ironic for two reasons: she was the result of the greatest pharmaceutical disaster in the world and the government who had told her she ‘could not work’ ended up being her employer for over a decade.
Today, the wife and mother is a public speaker and agent for change.
She regularly volunteers her time to speak to Queensland students about acceptance of those who are different and coping with life’s toughest moments.
She is also involved in lobbying the government in a bid to garner support for Thalidomide survivors.
Trish has also discovered a passion and talent for photography and art, born out of a particularly difficult period in her life and as a method of coping with her battle of living with daily pain.
She uses her feet for almost everything including producing beautifully detailed drawings and paintings.
Attending St Margaret’s from Years 3 to 12, Trish said: “I am so, so thankful for St Margaret’s because it gave me the best education, the best grounding and I have such fond memories of school.”
She jokingly told of how she used to “con” her teachers into carrying her around the school or up and down the stairs because her heart problems made it difficult for her to walk.
She shares with the children she speaks to that “you always have to look for the positives in life”.
Thank you to all who attended the Professional Women’s Network events in 2019. The series will return in 2020 with four new and inspiring guest speakers.
St Margaret’s also thanks our partners who supported the event including the Professional Women’s Network associate partners Pitcher Partners and McCullough Robertson, and supporting partners Downer, NAB, Clear Insurance, Programmed Property Services and Queensland Brain Institute.
All proceeds from these events are directed to the St Margaret’s Foundation Endowment Fund which supports our Indigenous scholarship program.
To listen to the audio recording of Trish’s presentation, click here.