2021 Living with an ABI: a letter from Robyn Brewin


It’s been another tough year for everyone. Many of us have been unable to have face-to-face contact with our families, loved ones and friends. Remote education and working from home have meant challenges. We have been worried about our own health, our health care system and the unrest and violence seen in a small but vocal minority. James and I know only too well the devastation that can be wreaked on others by violent, selfish youths out to cause trouble. The generous, caring nature of the JMB Foundation supporters stands in stark contrast to this selfishness, thank you.

James and many others in care homes across Melbourne have suffered from isolation, unable to phone or connect by Zoom unless someone else facilitates it. The access to therapists and other visitors restricted or stopped has had a huge toll on many lives of our most vulnerable. James has been lucky that I was granted permission to visit for essential care visits and so was his special external support worker throughout the worst of the lockdown. All outings were stopped except for walks around the block. Thankfully James was able to do Telehealth with his medical team and meditation on Zoom with his Buddhist meditation teacher Dantachitta. When picnics were allowed James visited parks and saw some family and friends again. Things are returning to normal now and James has been home for his regular day at my place each week since early November. James has stayed well throughout and soon will have a third booster dose of vaccine.

Over the past 14 years, it has been fantastic to be able to meet at the JMB tent and cheer runners across the finish line wearing their JMB singlets. It has been terrific to see fabulous families like the Paulins, the Woods and the Gearings who have run almost every year along with James’ friends, friends of friends and many others who have been inspired to do a 10k, half or full marathon. This year several of James’ best friends are running the marathon as well as  James’ cousin Ryan who is running his first marathon. It is hugely uplifting too that so many people young and old volunteer for checkpoints and drink stations for many hours and often start very early. The marathon day has been a huge highlight of the year for both James and me as everyone is so positive and happy and long may it continue.

It is awful that people have suffered physically, mentally and financially through the lockdowns and beyond. Please take heart as I do in the goodness and caring of so many people. For me the JMB Foundation supporters represent the best in society. It uplifts my spirit to know that people care and are willing to give generously of their time and resources to help others.

Let’s hope that next year we will have access to better vaccine cover and treatments and Covid can slowly retreat into a sad memory of another time. Let’s hope we can run the marathon as we have in the past and James and I can congratulate all the volunteers and runners in person again.