Gympie businesswoman's inspirational story
WHEN Jessie McCubbin's hands and shoulders became really sore just after Christmas last year, she put it down to the fact she'd been working really hard over the previous weeks with her boutique cake business and cafe.
Steadily, that pain increased to the point where she could barely move her hands.
"My hands and knuckles were bright red and stuck in position.
"I was in so much pain that my brain just shut down,” she said.
Admitting to herself there was something more than fatigue at play, she went to see her doctor and had a number of tests done.
The pain at this point was so constant and intense it barely registered that there may be something seriously wrong when the doctor called her and told her to come in right away.
"I remember what day it was - it was February 27th,” she said.
On that day, Jess received news that would change her life - she has lupus.
Lupus is a chronic auto-immune condition that is often difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can vary from each patient but common symptoms include skin rashes, joint and muscle pain and intense fatigue.
There is no cure at this stage, so this is a condition she will likely have for the rest of her life.
"I will never give up. This is my dream. This is what will get me through,” she said of her store in Mary St.
Jessie's determination to push through and live her life as close to normal is admirable and she is adapting daily to get the most she can from the cards she has been dealt.
However her husband Ben has had trouble dealing with it.
"He couldn't stop crying,” she said.
"He cried for two weeks straight.”
His unwavering support, and that of her family and friends is something Jess says is a source of comfort and helps to make it easier for her when she has bad days.
"I have amazing people around me - my babies, I call them - they can see if I'm having a bad day and pick up the slack,” she said.
Medication and a treatment plan is helping her to move forward and she said she's seen a significant improvement in her health since seeing a specialist.
Her positive frame of mind is also helping to combat the illness and that's something she wants to share with other people.
"I would say to people to stay positive and strong by doing what you love to do. If you don't have a good day, it can be hard to cope but if you can't smile, you should at least try.
"I understand why people get down.
"The pain some days is like someone is grinding my bones with a mortar and pestle,” the vibrant businesswoman said.
"But that's what makes me want to do this (make cakes and run her business) even more. It pushes me to do more and not become stale and that's okay.
"This is what makes me happy and self-happiness is a bit part of it - I sit in here and I love my space. It's not going to beat me. I might have lupus, but lupus won't have me,” she said.
Her business, something she and her husband spent 10 months of really hard work on building up, did have to shut for five weeks while she worked out a treatment plan but is open again.
Called Jessie and Co, the shop does high teas and boutique coffee and cake, but is also a place where clients can place custom cake orders.
"We built and painted everything and I think we've created a place not just for women but also men because it's clean and comfortable and they like that,” she said.
"Yes, it's a cake shop, but people can still come in here and have special service.
"I think the chairs are my favourite. Picking the chairs was big thing because I want customers to come in and feel special.
"This is a treat, not an everyday occurence - it's something special,” she said.
As for her lupus, Jessie would like to see more information made known about it, but in the meantime is creating her own awareness campaign via social media and has had some remarkable feedback.
"I've had so many people contacting me offering support - I even had a stranger drop off cookies. I've got people sending me information and it's made me want to do more - they've inspired me, and I've taught them, 'Yes, we can do things'.”
Her final advice to anyone living with a chronic condition is to listen to your body and find your inspiration.
"I would say listen to your body and if you need a break, give yourself one. And find something that makes you want to get up in the morning and have a good day,” she said.
Jessie's store is located at 164 Mary St, right next to the park gates and is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 9am-1.30pm and Saturdays from 9am-12pm.