28 January 2018

If life can’t look like this anymore, for a number of reasons, what do we want it to look like?  How are we going to pull it apart and how are we going to put it back together again? What do you want to do? “

Jillian Kingsford-Smith

Positivity and strength in a face of adversity.  A concept lauded in all walks of life and often trivialised to the level of banality.  Often when faced with this phrase we are listening to an athlete making a comeback late in a game or an entrepreneur forging their way into a new market selling iPhone covers.  While these may be suitable metaphors for adversity, the story of my guest in this episode brings a striking reality to what it really means.

Having developed sequential and deteriorating symptoms to the point of near collapse, Jillian ended up in the emergency department of a major trauma centre, on a Friday night.  Coupled with her fear and confusion she was forced to watch the comings and goings, the dramatic theatre that is an emergency department.  In the midst of this confrontation to her senses she was questioned, examined and prodded and probed all while diagnoses like ‘stroke” and “TIA” were thrown around.  Oh, and someone mentioned MS but said she was “too old”.

I first met Jillian in the midst of some of her darkest days.  In quick succession she was indeed diagnosed with multiple sclerosis then, only ten weeks later, breast cancer.  She was thrust into a quagmire of medical investigations, jargon, confusion, objectification and helplessness.  In a matter of weeks her carefully constructed life fell apart.  A disaster.  Or was it?

Speaking with Jillian is a revelation into the heterogenous nature of personal reactions to tragic circumstance and emotional pain.  When talking about how long Jillian let these circumstances get to her she is very specific.  Fourteen minutes.  Yes, minutes.  A cab ride proved enough for her to shift focus and look forward to how she would survive, and later thrive.

Jillian is a business owner, author, philanthropist and health advocate.  She is currently writing her third book providing advice and guidance to those with a chronic illness or those supporting them.

This was an incredible conversation which showcases the strength of the human mind and spirit.  We are reminded that the impact of illness on our lives is deeply enmeshed with the cognitive interpretation we attach to it.

How do you deal with a drastic, life-changing diagnosis?  How does mindset affect your life and ability to deal with it?  Broadly, this podcast is about dealing with adversity but it may change your opinion on what constitutes adversity. 

Summary of topics covered:

  • Dealing with a sudden diagnosis
  • Navigating breast cancer diagnosis and treatment
  • The power in taking control of your own health
  • The difficulties of complex medical diagnosis
  • Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis
  • The role of MS nurses
  • Kiss Goodbye to MS
  • MS Research Australia
  • Living and thriving with Multiple Sclerosis
  • Dealing with bad days
  • Using crisis to your advantage
  • Achieving balance
  • Breast reconstruction
  • Developing a plan
  • The power to redesign your life to serve you

Question: Do face significant adversity in your life?  Is there a way you can redesign your life to achieve a higher level of positivity?

I am sure you will enjoy this conversation.  Please leave a comment on iTunes and the website.

Remember to review and subscribe on iTunes while you are there.

Until next time.

Stay positive,



200 people are diagnosed with MS each week. 200 people are thrusting into the terrifying confusion that comes with the diagnosis.  If you, or someone you know has MS please see the links below for more information on how to get help and advice.


Listen & Subscribe on iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher

Thanks to this week’s sponsors:


Connect With Guest:

Instagram @jwksmith | Linkedin


Background, Context & Reference:

About Jillian’s books: http://take20stories.com


Taking Control :  https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/0987537504/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_7egAAbAN23556

Taking Control Together: https://read.amazon.com.au/kp/embed?asin=B00XBG74T0&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_NfgAAbYBY3JH1

About Kiss Goodbye to MS: https://kissgoodbyetoms.org

Jillian is an Ambassador of Kiss Goodbye to MS: https://kissgoodbyetoms.org/cant-stop-wont-stop-jillian-kingsford-smith/

About MS Research Australia (Jillian is their Writer in Residence): https://msra.org.au

Michelle Obama’s final interview re Living Out Loud – http://www.spring.st/michelle-obama-oprah-exit-interview

Tim Ferguson’s book – “Carry a Big Stick” https://read.amazon.com.au/kp/embed?asin=B00D3ITY3A&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_chgAAbS1R2FGB

Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:

All website, production & sound design this week by me again.


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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this one because it resonated with me with what I’ve been through. I love hearing stories of people turning their adversity into something so so positive. I think it’s because it makes you realise how damn lucky we are in being alive and having the ability to make a positive difference should we choose. Thanks so much!

    1. Thanks Kat. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  2. A most interesting and informative discussion with so many aspects of living life well to think about. Thank you.

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