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Women at Work: Heidi Prowse

Molly McLaughlin

When Heidi Prowse arrived in Canberra for a nine-month secondment, she had no idea that her whole life was about to change.

Heidi had only been in Canberra 17 days when she met Andrew. After they had been dating for a couple of months, he told her he had cystic fibrosis. Fast forward five years. Heidi and Andrew are now married and Heidi is the Executive Officer of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) ACT.

“It was never something that was daunting for me,” she says. “I have always been the kind of person who is looking for a solution. I decided that Canberra was the place I wanted to be. I wanted to be involved and to be able support this cause that is obviously very close to my heart.”

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Heidi started out volunteering for CF ACT and she and Andrew organised the inaugural Santa Speedo Shuffle, which raised over $12000. At that time, CF ACT was a small volunteer run organisation. Due to her previous work at not-for-profit organisations, Heidi knew that she had the skills to help. As Executive Officer, she divides her time between administration, fundraising and meeting with families and medical staff.

“My role means that I do a little bit of everything. I get to not only work with these families, but I also get to see the support CF ACT have been able to offer my husband, who is living and breathing this condition. I know I’m biased, but my husband is incredibly good looking but on the inside he really struggles. I know that our work really does make a difference and that continues to drive me every day.”

Because cystic fibrosis is an invisible disease, Heidi knows that many people aren’t aware of the debilitating effects it can have. She has learned first-hand and wants to raise as much awareness as possible about options like carrier screening and the support CF ACT can offer.

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“I was educated incredibly quickly because my husband was very healthy when we first met,” she explains. “At the first Santa Shuffle, he ran the 6.5 kilometres with ease, now he would need substantial assistance to be able to go that distance because of the degeneration of his lung capacity. I got the crash course in CF.”

While the course Heidi’s life has taken might have been overwhelming for anyone else, her problem–solving attitude and positivity mean that she is making a real difference.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m not the person that can come up with a cure, but I have been able to raise funds and that’s a good start.”

The annual Santa Speedo Shuffle will be held on Sunday July 31. More info here: www.cysticfibrosis.org.au/act/santa

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Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin is new to Canberra and is attempting to prove to her friends that the capital city can be cool. This mostly involves frequently going out for brunch and then posting about it on social media, along with trekking up hills and around art galleries. She is half way through her uni degree but spends most of her time reading, writing and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

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