Real Stories of the Sisterhood: Turia Pitt

RSFTSturiapitt_bannerAt Lorna Jane we believe that “there is no force equal to that of a determined woman”, which is why we want to get real and showcase those brave, active women who make up the Lorna Jane Sisterhood. Welcome to our new segment, Real Stories of The Sisterhood.

The purpose?

To shine a spotlight on the sporty sisters out there who have a story to share, to lift your spirits and inspire you to see the silver lining – no matter your circumstance.

Our first story is from Turia Pitt. After receiving a copy of Turia’s Never Give Up speech performed at Shoalhaven Women’s Conference earlier this year, we were in disbelief. Her story is heartbreaking, and when you read it, you can’t help but be filled with emotion. Sadness for her story, yet totally moved by her unwavering ability to Never Give Up! This incredible woman defines strength and positivity, and her message, is one that we just had to share with the sisterhood. Ladies, meet Turia Pitt.

What’s your story?

My name is Turia Pitt, and in September 2011, I was badly burned after a bushfire ripped through the Kimberley ultramarathon course. I suffered 65% TBSA (Total Body Surface Area) burns as well as multiple finger amputations and a badly scarred face. I spent six months in hospital battling constant infections and relearning to do the most basic tasks – walking, feeding myself, rolling over in bed. I’ve had to claw my way back into a life that resembles normality.

However, I still consider myself to be lucky. Why? Because we live in one of the best countries in the world. Because I’ve got amazing family and friends and a wonderful partner.  Because I’m from a great little town called Ulladulla. Never take the people you love for granted – these are the people who will stick by you, support you and believe in you.

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How has your experience shaped the person you are today?

I’ve always had a positive and optimistic personality. And I’ve always known that I was strong in a physical sense.  However, this journey that I’ve been on has shown me that it doesn’t matter how big your muscles are – you need to have a big heart and you need to have a strong attitude and mindset.

What does Active Living mean to you?

Active Living to me is an embodiment of moving well, eating well and looking after yourself. For burn survivors in particular, it’s extremely important to keep moving – whether it’s a training session, yoga, a kayak with a friend or a walk by yourself to reflect. Active Living also means eating well – I try to eat as much fresh food as I can. Burn survivors often have an accelerated metabolism for up to five years after the initial injury. That’s why I also try to eat a lot of food that are high in kilojoules such as raw nuts.

What would you say is your life mantra…

NEVER GIVE UP! You can do anything you want simply by never giving up. You also need to possess the qualities of determination and persistence in order to achieve your goals. One of my favourite quotes that I used in hospital was…

quote_a-journey-of-a-thousand-miles-lao-tzu_FBI applied this rationale during the rehabilitation process. After learning how to walk, I began to master the skill of climbing up stairs. At first, I could only manage one stair as well as holding onto a physiotherapist on either side of me. And then I could do one by myself. Next was to complete a whole level of stairs (20 stairs). Then I began to walk the eight levels from the burns unit down to ground level (160 stairs). By the end of my stay in hospital, I would climb the stairs multiple times: down, then up, down then up again. Each journey really does start with a single step (or stair!).

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What are some insights/words of wisdom you can share with the sisterhood?

While I was in hospital a nurse told me that life may deal you some rotten cards sometimes, but it’s how you play which is important. The strength of this statement is reinforced to me on a daily basis. Despite what happened to me, I’m still living life to it’s fullest and having a go.

I also often get asked how I can be so positive. I think my positive nature comes from four main things. Firstly, I keep myself super busy. Research has consistently shown that people in wealthier countries are more likely to experience depression. I think this is because people in developing countries are just too busy trying to scratch out a living. When your life is full of things to do and full of things to look forward to, you don’t get a chance to feel down.

Secondly, I surround myself with positive people. Negativity is contagious and you’d be surprised how quickly it can rub off on you.

Thirdly, when I feel down I accept and acknowledge the feeling, and tell myself that it will pass. It is unreasonable for us to expect to feel good all the time, and inevitable that we will at some point experience sadness. With the good comes the bad: that’s life.

The fourth thing is to eat well and exercise – when you’re feeling strong and healthy and you’re bursting with endorphins it’s pretty difficult to not feel good about yourself and life.

Any exciting future plans or goals in the works?

I’ve got big plans for the future. At the moment, I juggle studying my Masters (in engineering) and my MBA, as well as fitting in physiotherapy, personal training sessions, yoga and operations. I’ve also got an upcoming 60 Minutes segment (being aired this month) and my autobiography ‘Everything to Live For’ due out in September. Next year, I will be completing the 20km Lake Argyle Swim as well as a section of the Great Wall of China to raise money for the charity Interplast. Then my partner and I will be off sailing around French Polynesia (where I was born) for a year or two. When we return, I’ll be an endurance athlete, completing an Ironman as well as another Ultramarathon. I’ll also obtain my PhD in engineering.

Inspired by Turia’s story?

You can learn more by watching her 60 Minutes segment airing 7.30pm this Sunday evening.

Follow Turia on Twitter and keep an eye out for her new autobiography Everything to Live For.

Do you have a story you would like to share with the sisterhood?

Email us at believe@lornajane.com.au