The darker side to success…

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-5-55-59-amThe day after the AOTY awards were announced in Canberra last week, one reporter from the ACT phoned me and asked me what it felt like to be one of the losers. I was one of 32 state winners, and frankly, with or without an award, still feel like a winner, and have never felt like a loser, although for many years my self esteem was very low. Not one person who was nominated, nor one state winner in any category does their work to be named a winner. After all, it is not a race around the oval at school, for the Grade 6 cup!

We all do it to make a difference in the lives of others, the lives of our fellow Australians, and some of us work to help improve the lives of people all around the world. I said to the reporter, I was one of 32 state winners, and each person in each category was hoping each other became the national over all title holder. It was a privilege and honour to be recognised amongst this group of committed Australians.

But, there has been a very dark side to winning…

The following blog comes from my private therapeutic writings about the whole experience, and apart from the incredible support of many genuine family, friends and colleagues, it has been the only way I have maintained any sanity in the last few weeks.

The biggest lesson being a state winner has taught me, is there are a small percentage of very unkind Australians, some who I am either related to, or who used to be ‘close friends’, and I have discovered now are either jealous, have a major dose of passive competitiveness, or who are simply just very nasty or sick people and I was too blind to notice.

Daring not to die, it seems, is the preference of a malicious few.

This whole experience has taken a serious toll on my physical and emotional health, and my ability to ‘paddle’, and although initially I felt the need to keep publicly silent about it, I no longer feel that is the best way forward. I will not remain silent, as the story needs telling. Of course, my husband and others have said, say nothing and just move on, but my way of healing is through writing, and honestly sharing my experiences, which as I have also discovered over the many years of publicly blogging, very often helps others.

A ‘Senior Reporter’ from The Advertiser had threatened to publish an exposé about me before Christmas that I was a fraud, and had never had any health issues including dementia, allegations made to him by ‘close friends and family’. Once he realised he could not write a story exposing me as a fraud, he still wrote a very unpleasant story, that could only hurt my family, and was a subtle character assassination of me anyway. Unfortunately, as always, the minority make the majority of good journalists look bad. Shame on him for being so hurtful to my parents, husband and sons. Shame on The Advertiser for publishing it, but then, as someone said to me yesterday, and I quote: “they never buy The Advertiser, or any other Newscorp publication anyway, as it is full of rubbish”.

The two articles about me, including one with this in the title, ‘… Lead candidate in the Australian Of The Year Awards’, was filled with gossip, half-truths, some outright lies, and some truths, and even focused on my failed relationships, rather than the reason for the National Australia Day Council recognising me for my work in dementia. He didn’t even get my mothers name right!

Sadly, I felt obligated to provide many years of very private confidential personal medical records of evidence to prove the many illnesses that I have been diagnosed with over a vast number of years, but obviously (thankfully???) not died from. My Neurologist also was very angry, as he justifiably felt as if his diagnosis was being threatened. In fact, I was bullied, possibly even blackmailed (comments from a Barrister) before Christmas into feeling the need to invite someone into my neurologist’s appointment to ‘get it from the horse’s mouth’ so to speak. I didn’t need to go back to proving the loss of a twin pregnancy, but did offer to! There was no hesitation in doing this, as I have nothing to hide, and the defamatory allegations made about me, by these so-called ‘close friends and family’, were in fact, a pack of spiteful, perhaps jealous, and definitely malicious lies.

I did wonder, what the hell does whether someone  likes or hates me have to do with why I became the SA Australian Of The Year.

My global work in supporting people diagnosed with a chronic, progressive and terminal illness to live better lives is what should have been written about. I do not believe the reporter bothered to consider, when his sources sought anonymity, the source’s motives’, which is also a serious breach of the journalistic code of ethics.

But what the reporter did do, was ‘out’ one of his sources; whether on purpose or accidentally she was quoted as saying “I prefer to remain anonymous”, but there is only one person who has always called me ‘Quinnie or Q’, (in fact, she nicknamed me that in my early 20’s), and she knows who she is. Although I cannot prove it, I now have a reasonable idea of who has not only betrayed me, but defamed me in such a litigious way. The other person or persons who have defamed me, well, I can guess, but don’t actually care to know as have too much important and positive work to do, and so many brilliant friends, they are of no importance in my life at all.

At least now I realise why a minority of my family and friends have ‘quietly walked away’, and it obviously had nothing to do with feeling sad about me having dementia and not knowing what to say!!! The family member or members who defamed me, simply hurt our parents.

The ‘proof of the allegations’ the reporter referred to, were emails I had sent providing health updates that a few close family and friends had asked me to send. I therefore, already had some idea of who his ‘sources’ were. These emails were not proof of lies, but details of the various health issues I have had to face, alongside my husband and children. They are the people who have sat in doctor’s rooms with me, and we have all supported each other as we have faced health and other family issues together. They are, understandably and not surprisingly, delighted I did not die, delighted the diagnosis of MND was either wrong or remarkably did not progress.

Mostly, the very trashy articles (there were two versions online), are not what I would consider professional, in fact not even real journalism, really hurt my parents and my husband and children. Someone even said, “Wow, would they have preferred you had died, and left your boys, especially your biological son Charles, without a mother?!”

Quite a few reporters and journalists have contacted me this last week, and one very prominent and respected journalist said, “he really hoped I wouldn’t put them all into the puerile low hanging basket of fruit this reporter has made all journalists look like they fit into”.

Of course, the same day these trashy print media articles were published, The Studio on Channel 10 also aired a positive interview with Ita Buttrose, a friend and colleague, and fellow dementia advocate, focusing on my good work and positive attitude. Her message to me on the day of the announcement of the AOTY national award, sent at 3:18pm was “Good luck tonight. I’ll have all my fingers and toes crossed for you. Love, Ita.” 

Managing serious health issues with holistic and other lifestyle changes has been done for centuries in non western cultures, and as western medicine is failing so many of us, more of us are moving to this approach to health. As my health providers had ignored my very real health issues, or told me I was overstressed, or imagining the symptoms for more than 30 years, and then I was ultimately diagnosed me with a brain malformation requiring neurosurgery, I have had little faith in western medicine. Many friends of mine are the same, and one of my sons has rejected western medicine almost entirely, with incredible results in improving his overall health. As I recall, one of my Godchildren who had been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue in her teens and was not responding well to western medical support, her mother resorted to using holistic health to heal her. Holistic health works for many more illnesses than chronic fatigue.

My General Physician and General Practitioner were truly shocked by such malicious defamatory allegations made by so-called ‘close friends and family’, and the one word they both used was ‘betrayed’. My Neurologist was highly offended, and among a few other reactions, was justifiably angry that laypersons would doubt his ability to diagnose. I have required medical support to get through this from an emotional perspective, and my ability to ‘paddle’ and function for quite a few weeks has been seriously impacted. It was like someone had taken away my wheelchair or prosthetics (if I had lost my legs). One man I met last week, who has been to Afghanistan as a soldier a number of times, said “it sounded like being at war, and you were being attacked, in the same way I was exposed to there.”

I’ve had some incredible support over the last few weeks, including from my many genuine family and friends and a large number of people who work in the dementia sector, academics, care partners, people with dementia, respectable and ethical journalists, publishers, and many others here and online, and from my DAI family. One friend wrote;

“Kate, read today’s articles in the Advertiser and just wanted to let you know we are with you, love you and respect everything you do! So the very best of luck for the 26th”, and from the same person, after I replied: “… It makes my heart ache for you and Peter.  There is no justice when someone can maliciously defame you for no other reason than notoriety! Please, if there is anything we can do, just let us know (name withheld for privacy)”

This experience has had a positive outcome, and one of them is it resulted in a very thought-provoking Dementia Alliance International Webinar session held recently by DAI titled “But you don’t look like you have dementia!” which will be published on YouTube in a few weeks.

81 thoughts on “The darker side to success…

  1. Just had to reread this blog now, after the Dementia Australia conference. It still amazes me how the tall poppy syndrome is alive & “well”. We who know, love & respect you will always support you (even through/despite our personal angry meltdowns!😉). ❤❤


  2. Pingback: But You Don’t Look Like You Have Dementia | HelloCare

    • It was lovely just to be with you and talk about happy things and share a special lunch with three very special friends… much better than talking about this! Not that it hasn’t (and still is) taken a huge toll on me and Peter and our sons. Xxx


    • It made me almost permanently speechless John… and that is not a joke! In reality, it had me curled up in the foetal position for days,with no idea how I was going to make it back to some sort of quality of life. It was abuse and bullying of the worst kind, and collectively, we must stop it from happening to each others, and newly diagnosed people.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: "But you don't look like you have dementia" - Dementia Alliance International

  4. Pingback: Kindness is far more important… | Creating life with words: Inspiration, love and truth

  5. Hi Kate why are people so nasty I have had this said to me is this because we don’t lie down and die, but get up when diagnosed and live the best life we can. We lose so much when diagnosed with this disease our work and income our driving licence and a lot of our friends. Who in their right mind would pretend to have this condition. My lovely husband used to use that same saying of Forest Gumps mother about the box of chocolates. I just think people don’t realise that every person with dementia has different symptoms it’s not just about memory. Keep up your good work and let these low life crawl back under their stone where they belong.
    Carry on the good work you are doing. xxxxxxxx


  6. Hi Kate – so shocked and saddened by this.I also am truly sorry you have had to experience and endure something like this. Your ongoing courage and guts, despite everything, is truly breath-taking. Thank you for being & living the uniquely wonderful person you are. Always happy to support you in any way possible.


    • Thanks dear Janet… I have a long way to go to recovery from this attack, and what is no less than a disability hate crime. I will update as able how I intend to work my way through it.


  7. It is extraordinary what people think is OK to write either as journalism or on ‘social’ media. However, I am delighted that you have the courage to keep going in the face of it. Winning the state award is a massive achievement and the global community of us with an interest in dementia are very proud of you. I think you Australians say something like, ‘Good on yer, mate’ or something like that.


  8. i am staggered at the animosity shown to you, Kate, by “friends” and other lowlife. I hung on every word you wrote and admire your utter strength and guts, as you have confronted shit and not run away. Thanks for sharing what a hard time you have had, you are inspirational to us all; and keep up the excellent work you are doing. Peter needs a hug as well as you! We are still here in NZ and you know where to come for a rest. Haha! Love. xx


  9. Hi my Beautiful friend, I am shocked to hear your latest battle…! But I know that you have an amazing list of friends that love and support you and this is what I call a “bump” in the road.
    Unfortunately, you get people who for whatever reasons…none of which are logical do what they do, why? well I say that is for them to answer and I would not waste any more time.
    Thinking of you and with you always in spirit…hugs and love Fred & Mel XOXO


  10. Kate, I’m so sorry you have had to go through this crap. The unfortunate fact is that there are many arseholes (yes, I’ve been studying “English for Americans”;)) throughout the world. I prefer to see the good that results from these horrible people. Most importantly, you have shown your incredible strength and have emerged the winner by exposing the hate in others, while not falling into the trap of responding in kind (lawsuits, etc.). In addition, you have set an example that all of us who “don’t look like we have dementia” can follow. I’m proud to know you and remain grateful for the positive changes you have made for those of us living with dementia. Best to you!


  11. So well written Kate. It’s always amazes me how people think we would pretend anything about dementia in our lives – as if we wouldn’t want to be without it.Love and hugs as always and so sorry I won’t see you at Shirley’s on Saturday.xx


    • Thank you dear Wendy… I am sorry I won’t see you too, as this is such quick trip, so unless at Shibleys event, I will not see too many other friends at all as also very busy with DAI matters. Next time, hopefully! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Kate, You write such an interesting post. I admire your determination to dust off all the negatives that come your way. Thanks for your posts they make an incredible impression and provides many interesting thoughts.
    Your statement about not following Western medicine has made me participate in the remarks sections and would love to hear what your alternative medicines are. Love your thought s and Past.


    • I’ll see if I can find previous blogs on what I do, but you might like to search on my site for Non pharmacological interventions for dementia, or I think there is a blog called, The Olympics of my life… and thanks for joining the conversation here, it is truly appreciated.


  13. That is absolutely shocking Kate and no wonder you were angry and upset. There are hundreds of people all over the world that really value and thank you for speaking out and trying to help us to understand a bit more ….. take good care of yourself and remember there are sooooo many people behind you and supporting you xx


  14. Hi Kate Thank you for writing about these terrible events. I am glad to read your words. I feel as a carer I have to defend my parents diagnosis. Mum was had her diagnosis confirmed 5 years later by second consultant as so many people implied in so many words that the diagnosis was wrong. It must be depression or bbipolar.

    As my mum’s consultant said “when did they get a degree in psychiatry” But when you need all your strength to get up a face another day with this incurable illness, it can be a stress too far.

    Thanks for the webinar looking forward to the video. Keep going. Don’t let a tiny minority of jealous spiteful people stop your good works.


    • This lot were much worse than infidels… but do not worry, they have made me even more determined and stronger to further our cause, and to stop Prescribed Disengagement in its tracks! big hugs to you both xx


  15. My very dear Kate. How very brave you are! You wouldn’t begin to know just how many of us would be strengthened through your honesty, your bravery and your words. Your voice, so very often, speaks on our behalf, and we know we are not alone. That knowing is so important.

    A “close friend” challenged me recently when I explained that I just could not travel overseas, with the words “Anyway, you don’t have Alzheimer’s”, and each time when I tried to respond, kept hammering at me, repeating “You do not. You do not!” Then with a voice of ultimate authority “Anyway, others agree with me!” implying that friends we have in common see me to be a fake, a pretender, a liar, whatever.

    I felt terribly assaulted, as though I’d been stabbed, again and again – and by one of my closest friends? I was in shock, asking myself -“Why would anyone ever do this to themselves. A life sentence! Losing so much of one’s quality of life – one’s mind? All the books you can no longer read, and so much more, and still trying to be “normal”. It was, and still is, just devastating to feel betrayed, by someone so close to you.

    But Kate, do you know where I found my strength. I went home and I read about betrayal, and how it is – not being believed, from yours, and then Christine’s book too. What you’d both written made me feel strong again. I have not seen her since. But thank you, and Christine, as well.

    I haven’t read, nor would I read such garbage from that news source. That reporter’s words are nothing more than a reflection of himself – a manufacturer of garbage.


    • My dearest Judy… Your words, and our very special friendship, have kept me going many days. Thank you for reminding me, and Christine, that what we do, and also that what you do each day, simply getting out of bed and coping with the challenges of dementia, living alone, is so important. Not being believed is no longer just unacceptable, I see it is a form of abuse or assault, and the experience I have had these las two months, felt worse than anything I have every been through. Our sons are still finding their way forward… I love you, and I miss you and we will find a way to visit one of these days, or if you ever feel up to a sojourn to Adelaide, there is always a bed here for you. xx


  16. bloody hell, good on you.

    no need to hide or back away…you have nothing to be ashamed of.

    school yard bullies just got older…

    much love my dear friend xxx



  17. Well said Kate!!!!! Small minded people will eventually get their come-uppance. Surround yourself in the love of family and friends who support and care about you. Haven’t read the article but wouldn’t believe it anyway. You are such an inspiration and have done humanity a great honour by sharing your journey and advocating for those without a voice. Take care Liz xo


  18. Dear Kate, how truly truly awful, and words fail me. This “journalist” is a peddler of untruths, and may as well have thrown missiles at you. And of course those malicious “sources” are unspeakable! You have achieved so much on behalf of people with dementia, brought us together as a global voice, and empowered us. As Winston Churchill once said “Never give up, never ever give up, never never ever give up.” We need you, but look after yourself, and protect yourself from this type of harm, by drawing on us all and sharing. We will stand by you when you need us. Together we are stronger than these lies.


    • Dear Christine, Thank you for your love and support here, it means a huge amount to me. Our webinar last week, was such an empowering, and enlightening experience for those of us resent, and when we get home from our trip, my BUB will edit it and we will send to all to view before we make it live. It really does show our strength, and compassion for each other. Take great care, and yes, together we are stronger. xx


  19. Good on you Kate, I like a woman who says it as it is and stands up for herself. You are again showing leadership and teaching us all to stand on the side of right and truth.

    *Of course, most people won’t have read the article you talk of, like me being in Sydney, and we won’t go looking to find it and read it either. So for the majority of us – your good character has NOT been assassinated, not one bit. Quite the contrary – we have seen your strength again.*

    A lot in life comes down to ignorance and unkindness.

    People are so ignorant about dementia – they only understand it in terms of late stage dementia when the reality is, change is happening to peoples’ brains 17 and more years before they are even diagnosed.

    As for your unkind relative(s). That person(s) is very unkind, cruel in fact. You have seen their true colours. Choose to consider yourself fortunate that you don’t have to associate with them. Nobody likes unkind people. And everyone knows that unkind people are never unkind just to one person.

    You Kate, have been honoured with being nominated for your good works for Australian of the Year.

    You Kate, are making a positive impact on the world and advocating for a better world for the better for people living with dementia, of which there are many (and let’s not forget older people don’t speak up because they are diagnosed much later in their illness and therefore their ability to speak up is less and the stigma is too great – whereas a younger person notices the changes and gets an earlier diagnosis and has ability and passion to speak up – not just for themselves, but for all who can’t).

    You Kate, are being a powerfully positive influence in the world.

    You Kate, are doing good in the world.

    I can bet you that this relative is NOT doing the same.

    Kate, let your light shine on bright and unfettered.

    Shine on Kate, shine on.

    Kate Lambert
    Daughterly Care


    • Dear Kate, thank you for give me strength again, as just now, I have almost collapsed emotionally again. Together, we are stronger, and women should be supporting, encouraging, cheering and holding each other up, not knocking each other down…


  20. I tried to answer on your post but forgot my password and the procedure is beyond me today. Please accept all the love and appreciation from the folks that really care for and about you. Put your hand up to the rude and uncaring people easy said difficult to do. Get back up on the horse and go riding. With loe and appreciation, Myrna >


  21. Dearest Kate and Peter – my heart bleeds for you both. How despicable can someone be? I don’t buy the paper or read it online so I didn’t see this article but no doubt, if I had, I would have been angry with the author. I’m sure you have thought about getting the paper to retract the article, or taking out a defamation case against the paper, but I imagine that it would be too stressful. You do a most fabulous job in your advocacy for people who live with dementia – just keep on doing what you do. You don’t have to prove anything to any of those jealous idiots out there. You have many many supporters amongst your friends and family – me included. Forget about the negative people (sometimes easier said than done, I know). Take care. With love and hugs to you both xxxx


  22. I needed to hear this. We’ve been so trained to “rise above it” that we can’t always and openly acknowledge the pain of betrayal. I stopped seeing a friend after her betrayal became too stressful to get over, and the friends we had in common still push me to “make up” with her, as if it’s just a tiff. They just want things to go back to the way they were. Tough! It’s one thing to be the nice person who doesn’t like to “stir the pot”, but when people behave badly, we should be as comfortable pointing that out as we are celebrating their accomplishments. It should work both ways, to be fair, and it can be done in ways that aren’t mean or nasty. I applaud your openness and hope you don’t have a moment’s doubt about it. You’re my hero.


    • Agree Lorrie… I have been ‘rising above it’ for almost two months now, and yesterday, after someone had copied the article onto Facebook (thankfully they removed it eventually), I completely broke down, sobbing uncontrollably for many hours…

      Overnight, I said, fuck it, they are not going to win, and instead of laying awake distressed, got up at 2:30 am and finished the blog, as well as sent an email to the person who I think is the source to explain or refute it, and am drafting a few other more serious emails about it.

      There are a number of ethical issues, and I am sure, a number of codes of conduct that have been breached in this apart from the slanderous defamation. Watch this space! Thanks for your support, you and all my genuine friends are my heroes too xxxx


      • I get great comfort in thinking of the planet Earth spinning in space, and realizing how insignificant we all are. Love & hugs to you, I’m following and hoping that you can put this behind you soon and get back to joyful living.


      • We are that dear Lorrie, a mere spec in the universe, and only here for such a short time. Much better to use our time to help others than knock our ‘friends’ or anyone for that matter down xx


  23. Hi dear go girl.this blog is fantastic as always.nothing is going to stop you as you say.what doesnt kill you only makes you stronger.not sure if this is the place but we both love this from forrest gump.
    Love you forever my darling friend.hugs to you n pete.xxxx.


  24. Kate, Not fair for you to have to put up with this but your indignation as well as understanding serve you well! Why people need to be mean, and even resort to lies, is incomprehensible to me as well but that doesn’t make you less, if fact it makes you MORE and them LESS! Keep up the good fight, express yourself, cleanse yourself through your writing. It matters to the rest of us that you know you are loved and even admired!


  25. Oh Kate, this is truly dreadful….. Know that you have our support. Never forget you are a truly remarkable human being, and an inspiration to so many.


    • Thanks for your support Gail… we are stronger together, and in that way we can make the world a better place for people with dementia and our families. I’ve sent your comment to Pete as well, as he has been needing a lot of hugs too xx


      • Oh, good, thanks Kate. Pete needs our support too. He must have been gutted at this attack on you. What a good man he is.


  26. Yes, after having read it online we have cancelled our subscription and told them why, as my mother said who buys the paper,” it is now longer a voice for South Australians” it has become what many have said “really not even good enough to be a hot chips wrapper.” We have recommended to anybody and everybody else do the same, “not even good for toilet paper” was the comment of another friend. How amazing for you to be included in the highest group of hard working people in Australia and as for being a loser, well that line is long and not as distinguished and you are in a completely different queue. We love you and support you regardless, no lie or publication or person would ever know the real you for if they did, they would never consider writing or saying such crap. xxx


    • And they probably are still wondering why their readership went down by 18% last year (I think that was the figure)! Nothing to dos with online, all to do with the ‘quality’ of the articles.
      Love you for ever my dear friend Robyn xoxoxox


  27. O Kate, what more? I’m so glad you’ve finally written this.
    Peter is quite right about disability hatred. It’s not to be tolerated.
    I’m horrified that you all felt you had to “prove” anything, but the Advertiser has wide circulation in Adelaide, I know.
    Double hugs from Veda & me. xx


    • Thanks Lynda and Veda… the saddest thing of all, was it arrived in the paper on the day of my father’s 84th birthday and they are at that age where they have the time to read every single newspaper. I’ve learned a few excellent things throughout it – I have MANY MORE genuine friends and people in my life than I realised, and am grateful for them/you all. xxx


  28. Kate, So sorry to hear what you have been going through. Would definitely never read the Newsweek rags. You are definitely a winner to the thousands of people who matter. Don’t let the bastards get you down. Your health & the well-being of your family are way more important. Hopefully you will feel able to continue the valuable contribution you make in Australia & around the world. Jo McMahon


  29. Kate, it’s brave of you to share this on social media, Insults based on rumour and conjecture amounting to character assassination can be seen as a disability hate crime. These have doubled in recent months in Britain and many several other countries and need to be exposed. You have set a good example: I hope others will follow.


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