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Being Grateful - Lisa Baptista

As a chiropractor, Lisa Baptista helps keep people healthy. But Lisa’s also experienced first-hand how a disease can suddenly change your life which is why she’s more than ready to support Great Full’s bum hugger project.

Lisa Baptista practices gratitude by giving back. Between her packed schedule teaching as a chiropractor and modelling for Silverfox, Lisa made some pictures in her undies with photographer Hannah Richards, stylist Eloise Morin and makeup artist Virginia Carde to showcase Flox’s Cool Cat and Dick Frizzell’s Kingfisher Bum Hugger designs.

100%  of profits from bum hugger sales goes to Bowel Cancer New Zealand. Having lost her mother to bowel cancer, Lisa’s hope is that others can get the help that the need before it’s too late. Here, she shares her Great Full story.

Chiropractor, educator and model Lisa Baptista wears Flox's Cool Cat bum huggers
– Great Full's second project which supports Bowel Cancer New Zealand.

We respect the land we live on. 
In 2007 I moved to Auckland from Honolulu, Hawaii to start a position at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic. The chance to live and work in New Zealand as a chiropractor was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. What truly made me stay was when gay marriage was legalized. I’m a proud gay woman and when a small country downunder has the open mindedness to extend a right and a freedom before many of the big countries of the world, I knew exactly where I needed to be.   

We embrace our families, both blood and created.
I will be 59 in October. I have no children, however, I’ve been blessed to know my housemate (who’s like a sister from another mother) when she became pregnant. I was there when Lucas, who is now 7 years old, was born. I checked and adjusted him one hour after his birth and over the years the three of us have created a little family. 

We celebrate our unity.
Inspiration comes from the people around me, especially my students. They continually amaze me with their dedication to working hard and their passion for optimising people’s health, vitality and performance. They keep me young; they keep me on my toes, and they keep me wanting to be excellent every day for them.  

We are a community.
I have three words that I try to live by: acceptance, equality and full self-expression.  

We stand together.
Everything we do has an impact on others, whether it be good or bad; right or wrong. As BJ Palmer once said, “We never know how far reaching something we may think, say or do today will affect the lives of millions tomorrow”.

We are grateful.
There have been many people in my life that have done things for me for no particular reason other than to help me, without me asking for it. One such person was John Franicevich. As a teenager, I was the only girl amongst the boys playing basketball. Back then they called me a tomboy because I could play better than most of the boys. John Franicevich was the guy that made sure our playground was a safe place for us to play. He also told a friend of his – head coach of a local university – to take a look at how I played.  Resulting from this random act of kindness, I was offered a four-year full tuition athletic scholarship. Attending university would have never happened without that opportunity as I wouldn’t have been able to afford it – this small gesture changed my life forever.  

We celebrate our unity.
My mom gave me the best family a person could hope for. My three brothers, two sisters, and I get along great. We have the most fun when we are together and laugh until our stomach aches. Your brothers and sisters can be your best friends.  

We are aroha.
One day out of the blue, my mother called me to ask my advice about this persistent pain she was having on the right side of her lower abdomen and in her lower back. She had no other pain or symptoms. I suggested that she visit her GP who then recommended that she have a CT scan. They found a 5mm spot that was concerning and decided to do exploratory surgery. I was there on the day of her surgery. I remember the doctor vividly, who said that mom had fourth stage bowel cancer. During surgery, as they started to clear the margins of the cancer, they removed all of her ascending colon, half of her transverse colon, her appendix, gall bladder and 17 lymph nodes. They also found it in her lining of her small intestines and liver. When the doctor left, we looked at each other in shock and she said, “I always thought your father would die first”, then we both started to cry. Six weeks later, at 9:26 am New Years Eve 1998, my mom left us. She was a beautiful woman and the glue that held our family together. She raised the 6 of us mostly on her own. She died 6 months after her 65th birthday.

There still there isn’t a day that I don’t miss her. You don’t forget the pain; it just gets a bit easier to accept that she’s not here. I wish I could hear her voice one more time. Or that I could lie my head on her shoulder; hear her familiar footsteps walking up the stairs of our house. I miss her so much it still hurts and I'm almost 60 years' old.

It was an easy ‘yes’ to be involved in Great Full’s Bum Huggers project, as the cause is so close to my heart. My mom would be proud that her tomboy daughter is wearing make-up and bum huggers. 

Rewa wears Dick Frizzell's Kingfisher design, part of Great Full's bum hugger project, where 100% of profits from undies sales go to Bowel Cancer NZ to help prevent the disease and to find a cure.

We share our faith in the future.
As someone who has been involved in the health care sector for 27 years, I see first-hand how access to medical care can be difficult at best for most people. It is a fundamental right of all people to have equal access to quality medical care and New Zealand’s health care system is commendable. But there is still work to be done which is why supporting causes like those Great Full promotes are so important. With the high rates of illness and disease in New Zealand, like bowel cancer, access to care is so important not only for the peace of mind of the patient, but also the peace of mind for family and caregivers. Everyone is affected when a loved one is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.