Brad Patterson recently had the honour of catching up with Health Editor of BLOSS Magazine, Adele Koolen to have frank chat about life, work and aspirations.

Congratulations on your appointment as Health Editor of BLOSS Magazine! How did you react when you learned you had landed the post?

Thank you so much.  It is super exciting, as I can now share my love for the health profession through blogging and editing, even though I no longer practice myself. 

How has your new job affected your life and outlook thereon?

I now have 2 new jobs - social media management and health editor.  It has definitely made my life busier, but also showed me that what I love most is sharing knowledge and helping others make better choices, even if it means I have had to bump my head a few times to come to the correct conclusion.

Everyone starts somewhere, where did you grow up and what was it like? 

I was born in Boksburg in May 1981 and lived there until I was 26.  My parents got divorced when I was 9, and I came from a very humbled background.  We didn’t have an abundance of money and materialistic things, but we were and still are loved beyond measure.  My parents were both strict and my dad exceptionally competitive, I think that is where I get my ambition and drive from, my never say die attitude. I grew up giving my 200% in everything I do, and it has shaped me into the adult I am.

What dreams did you have as a child and how does your present success measure up?

My biggest dream was to become a physiotherapist and travel the world, which I did.  One of my other dreams was to one day have people know who I am.  I wanted people to know my name because of the difference I have made in their lives.  That is slowly coming true as I am impacting more and more people and seeing the fruits of my labor.

Any dreams you still have your sites on achieving?

I always joke and say I wanted to be retired at 35.  Well that ship has sailed, so new dreams had to come into place.  On a serious note though, one of my biggest dreams is to really impact the lives of others, and to make my #IAmEnoughZA campaign an international brand.  And I dream about putting my story into a book and maybe even a movie.  I know it may sound farfetched, but hey if you don’t dream big, what’s the point of it?!

You founded a campaign called #IAmEnoughZA. What inspired you to create it?

My husband and I had tried to fall pregnant for 7 years.  1.5 years into the journey, I found out that I had a chromosomal problem and needed to use donor eggs.  This was a massive thing for me to accept.  5 failed IVF attempts with the donor eggs, I found out that I cannot in fact conceive at all, and we would have to look at other options.  This led to surrogacy.  During this whole time, I received a lot of negative comments, bordering on bullying from people.  Everyone had their own opinion on what I should be doing and what not, and one person even went as far as pointing out that it must be so difficult knowing that I had failed as a woman.  I was in a very bad space, but like every black hole, you can either let it consume you or you can get up and show the world the middle finger.  I chose the latter, and when I made peace with who I was, that a child didn’t define me, I realized I was enough. I decided that every person out there who has ever faced a battle, should embrace it and say the same.  And just like that the campaign was born.

How has this campaign affected you as a person? 

I have become a happier person and don’t really care about other peoples' negative opinions. I also don’t keep quiet anymore when I see others being bullied or bad mouthed.  We all have our crosses to bare and life is much easier when you go through it being positive.  

What has been the greatest challenge you have faced in your career? And how did you overcome it? 

After 15 years as a well-known physio, I underwent hand surgery and that was the turning point for me. It was as if everything in my life had come to a stop.  Physio, as much as I loved it, was part of the old me, the one who battled infertility and was miserable.  I decided to change professions together with closing the ‘baby’ book, and I can honestly say that as hard as this was at 37 years of age, it was the best thing I have ever done. 

There are still lot of women battling to conceive out there. What advice can you offer them? 

It’s always such a hard question, because for us it wasn’t the result we wanted.  Would I say don’t do fertility treatment, not at all.  My message to all couples is this: Be informed.  Be on the same page as your partner.  Have realistic expectations.  Understand that there is the chance of this not working.  Communicate with each other, and above all else, speak about it.  And remember none of this is your fault, unfortunately the genetic makeup is not in your hands, and ignore everyone’s 5c worth.  And if you have a baby at the end, fantastic, embrace it and enjoy it, and if you don’t it’s okay too.  And please if anything, do not go into financial ruin to do this, and if your partner says enough now, respect them enough to realize you got married because you wanted to be with them.  Procreation and having a little mini-me is a bonus, not a have to.

Who were your heroes growing up? 

Fictional I would have to say Superman, he had it all.  Celebrity/sports person - Nadia Comaneci, I loved gymnastics and she was the ultimate perfect scoring human being.  Real life person - my mom.

What was it about them that you admired? 

I know this sounds cliched, but this was a woman who gave up everything to give her two girls everything.  I am so proud of her, and she has always been my biggest supporter and number 1 fan, and I got to return the favor when she got admitted as an attorney at the age of 55.  She is the picture of a success story.

Everyone harbors a pet peeve. What is yours?

OMG I have many - my top 3 - people who litter, people who chew really loud and with their mouths open, and people who lie and pretend to be something they are not.