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“FIGHT WITH YOUR SPIRIT – NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT AWAY FROM YOU” – AMY CAMILLERI ZAHRA, MENINGITIS SURVIVOR
In February 2006, at the age of 21, whilst Amy was a student at the University of Malta, she contracted meningitis – a devastating bacterial infection which creates havoc in your body. As an effect of the infection, Amy lost both legs from below the knee, 9 fingers and later her kidney function.
In the first few hours after Amy was admitted to hospital, her parents were told that there was very little hope for her to make it alive and it was best if they said their goodbyes and started planning her funeral.
“Somehow, life had other plans for me, and although I made it through alive, the journey to rebuilding my life as I knew it was a long and hard battle. There were times I cried hysterically but my family and friends rallied me on. They supported me and believed in me.”
Amy spent 3 months in hospital and another year trying to gain some of the independence she had before. With the help of several services and her prosthetic legs, a year later she was back at university. However, two years later Amy found out that her kidneys had stopped working and in February 2009 she received a kidney transplant from her father.
Perseverance is everything to Amy. Throughout her difficult journey she had many setbacks both in terms of her health and in life in general. However, persisting despite the difficulties encountered is what has kept her going. “Being creative in finding a solution to the problem is one way of persisting.”
Having faith has been very important throughout Amy’s journey. In times were there was very little or no hope at all, “My faith is what kept me going.”
Amy has experienced fear quite a few times and will continue to experience it. She tries to tackle it by being rational about the situation and by grounding herself in the moment. Fear is part of life. It is part of our make up as human beings.
Amy is now 35 years old, she works as an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Malta and currently reading for a PhD. She is a disability rights activist. Married for 8 years to Mark Anthony and they have a two-year-old son Gianni.
An inspiration to many women, her ability to keep going and show incredible strength in coping throughout it all is truly amazing.
Amy’s love for life is one of the things that has kept her going. She is a glass half full kind of person so that has helped in all of this and being grateful for the little things has also allowed her to cope well. But above all, “the support of my husband and parents and now my son is what ultimately keeps me going.”
Her favorite quote was coined after she had a conversation with a special friend whilst she was in hospital just after she had lost her legs, they had talked about how important it is to keep our spirit intact and whole.
In life we might lose a lot of things, but it is very important that we nourish our spirit as that is what helps in coping with the adversities that life may throw at us.
Amy wants to encourage other women who need inspiration right now as life can be hard at times for a multitude of reasons. Her message would be to “be grateful for the little things and to count one's blessings no matter how small they are.”
She also believes very much that in creating meaning out of any situation we may find ourselves in and that we shouldn't just stop at accepting the situation but also discover meaning out of it. This might not happen overnight, but it can happen over time and it’s important to surround yourself with people who believe in you.
She values the wellbeing of her family the most and her dreams for the future is to finish her doctorate and continue with her word in academia and activism. Spending quality time with her family is very important to Amy and her wish would be to travel more in the future.