FIVE QUESTIONS is where we ask members of the community to talk about how they stay HEALTHY. CESPHN board member and lawyer Larissa Cook, who recently attended the Canterbury Head to Health launch, shared this:

1. What did you eat yesterday?

My husband brought me coffee and toast in bed (which he does every morning as I am not a morning person!).  It also gives us a few minutes of alone time to plan the day before the chaos descends.  For lunch I made a ham, cheese, tomato and lettuce roll with avocado and mustard pickles on a crusty baguette (bread is my weakness).  For dinner I made Spanakopita which is the only vegetarian meal my otherwise carnivorous sons will eat (halloumi and dill are the secret ingredients) Afternoon tea is literally that for me – Earl Grey Tea with a piece of fruit, or perhaps a scotch finger biscuit.  Depending on the day I may treat myself to a G&T before dinner or a glass of wine with and perhaps a piece of fruit and some dark chocolate after. 

2. What exercise did you do yesterday?

I went to the gym for pilates (I also alternate weights and cardio three times a week) followed by a steam, cold pool and spa.  I also swim in the ocean whenever possible (usually at Bondi) plus tennis at least once a week.

3. When did you last see a primary health professional?

I attended my GP a couple of months ago to get the results from my annual mammogram and breast ultrasound.  I am now 18 years down the track from a devastating diagnosis of breast cancer which had spread to my lymph nodes when I was 36 and my boys were one and three.  I had no family history or other risk factors and I underwent chemo, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and hormonal therapy in addition to reconstructive surgery.  Consequently, I am a passionate advocate for the information, prevention, screening and care which a longstanding family GP can provide.

4. What do you do to improve your mental health?

My husband and I recently returned from a wonderful trip to K’gari (Fraser Island) where we spent an extra-long weekend.  Whenever possible we try to get away (alone or with friends or family) for a mini break or longer if we can manage it.  Having regular time off to recharge and reconnect with nature and each other is important as is having something to look forward to.  I mentioned the ocean swimming which is very meditative.  We also have two cats and two dogs who get us out for a regular walk and are always pleased to see us and up for a cuddle.

5. What are your health goals for the next month?

Cancer has taught me to keep my health goals small.  There was a time when I did not think I would live to see the degenerative changes that come with the passing years.  So perhaps I take a more sanguine approach to the ravages of age.  For me being vigilant, advocating for yourself and your friends and family and taking what preventive steps you can are all important, but sometimes bad outcomes are just bad luck.  It is how you respond to them – mentally and physically – that matters.  The reason I joined the board of the PHN is to help to ensure that everyone gets the same chance I did to prevent, manage, and survive a bad health outcome. 

Read previous ‘FIVE QUESTIONS’ here