|Cindy Kennedy, Mother, Author|
HELP! MY CHILD HAS HASHIMOTO'S
Cindy Kennedy has produced a book for parents of children with Hashimoto’s disease, a hypothyroid disease. Because Hashimoto's typically is a disease of middle-aged women and almost never found in children, when her daughters were diagnosed with it she found little information available to help guide her. HELP! MY CHILD HAS HASHIMOTO’S contains her experiences and research in helping her daughters, highlighted by the need for repeated blood tests. Reviewers tout the book as an “Invaluable resource full of practical advice” and a “Brilliant Parent Survival Guide Transcends Hashimoto's.”
Kennedy was able to gain access to advanced information given she is a qualified Nutritional Medicine Practitioner in Australia, where she lives with her family. She plans to write two followup books, including about how what you eat affects Hashimoto’s and a second one with interviews of those with Hashimoto’s. When she's not writing she runs her business as the owner of Nutrition Navigator, a Nutritional Medicine Practice in Grafton, NSW, Australia and spends her spare time with her family enjoying her home in the Australian bush watching the river flow by.
Q: What led you to write a book about Hashimoto’s disease?
Cindy Kennedy: When my youngest daughter was diagnosed just after her eighth birthday, I felt completely overwhelmed, so I started researching all I could about the condition. While there is quite a bit of information available about Hashimoto’s and thyroid health, none of it deals with the disease in children. Part of the problem we have faced is that it is considered a disease of middle-aged women. I’ve even had doctors tell me that children can’t get it! This also means there is very little support for children and families going through this, so I have become passionate about raising awareness that Hashimoto’s does affect children and also that there are many things that we as parents can do to help support them.
Q: How did you prioritize what was most important to include in your book?
Cindy Kennedy: This was a tough one! I have so many things I want to share, picking what to include and what to leave out was really difficult. In the end, I decided to focus on all the little things that I wish someone had told me at the beginning. With the doctors, it’s all medications, blood tests and scans, and in many of the support groups it’s all about diet, but I think you really need to start with the little things. Helping them deal with what’s going on, supporting their siblings through the upheaval, and even looking after your own stress levels. Plus things the doctors tell you to do, but don’t explain how, like getting your child to drink more water, or surviving the never-ending blood tests.
Q: Who do you believe will benefit the most from reading your book? Patients? Parents? Friends? Family of patients?
Cindy Kennedy: I wrote the book for parents, but I think it will help anyone who has Hashimoto’s. It’s all the little life-hacks that no one talks about, but make day-to-day life so much easier. Menu planning so you don’t have to shop everyday, getting a good night sleep - these are all things that can help all of us. I also think it would be good for extended family and friends to give them an insight into what you are going through and ways they can help.
Q: How does your book go beyond what we can discover on the Internet? What do you provide that we can’t get doing research?
Cindy Kennedy: The internet is great for learning about what the illness is and how it manifests, and even for researching how what you eat can impact your Hashimoto’s, but it is all targeted at adults. Kids are such creatures of habit, so getting them to change their routine, or deal with something out of the ordinary can be really difficult. You can research what medications or supplements to take, but my book gives the tricks on how to actually get your kids to take them. Let’s face it, you can’t reason with a child to take their pills at 6am on a school morning!
Q: What are the top 3-5 tips you would offer to parents of children with Hashimoto’s disease?
Cindy Kennedy: My number one tip would be make sure the blood tests get done. So many parents are reluctant when it comes to bloods tests because it is traumatic. As hard as it is though, they have to be done so their levels can be monitored and their medications adjusted. This is so important because low thyroid hormone levels in children can stunt their growth, impair their intellectual development and affect the onset of puberty. My other tips would be to make sure everyone is getting a good night sleep, and managing your stress as well as theirs. It can all feel overwhelming at times, so you need to look after your own health too.
Q: How much research did you do to write your book?
Cindy Kennedy: I have lived, eaten and breathed Hashimoto’s for the last 3 years! I attend professional seminars, scour the medical journals, read books and talk to as many people as I can. Being a Nutritional Medicine Practitioner is great because it gives me access to all manner of extra resources and wonderful mentors to guide me along the way, and enables me to dig so much deeper than I could otherwise.
Q: What did you find the most challenging to writing your book?
Cindy Kennedy: I think the most challenging thing about writing the books was deciding what to include and what to leave out. It is such a complex disease and manifests differently in everyone. As a result, there are so many ways you can support someone with Hashimoto’s. In the end, I decided to make it a book that tells you all the things you need to know in the early days, but no one ever discusses because I couldn’t find that information when I needed it. There are already books on women’s hormones, autoimmune disease in adults and even Paleo diets specifically for autoimmune disease, but there is nothing for children. Nothing that tells you how to work with doctors so you don’t tear your hair out, or how to organize the ridiculous amounts of paperwork you end up with. There was a big gap that needed to be filled.
Q: How did you make descriptions of medical terms understandable? Is it important to speak in easily understood language, i.e., is part of the problem that nomenclature obscures comprehension of the disease?
Cindy Kennedy: Thank you! I take this question as a real compliment! I was quite worried writing the book that it would be confusing because it is such a complex disease and you do have to use a certain amount of medical terminology. I think because I’ve been explaining it to my children for a couple of years, so that they understand what is going on in their bodies, it’s helped me to be able to discuss it in layman’s terms. It’s also part of my job to be able to explain people’s complex medical conditions to them and to empower them to take charge of their own health, so I guess it just comes down to lots of practice!
Q: What’s next? Will you write more on Hashimoto’s or other diseases? Do you want to become a full-time writer?
Cindy Kennedy: I still have another 2 books at least about Hashimoto’s that I really want to write. My next book will be about how what you eat affects your Hashimoto’s. In addition to the changes that you need to make to your diet, I really want to write about how to make the changes sustainable - especially for families.
What we eat is so much a part of who we are. I think the reason many people who try and improve their diet really struggle, because there isn’t enough support for changing habits. It’s one thing to know you should do something, but another thing altogether to actually do it - look at exercise! We all know we should exercise regularly, but so few of us actually do.
I’d also like to write a book that is a series of interviews with people and families living with Hashimoto’s. Hearing other people’s struggles and triumphs helps you to realize that you aren’t alone and that there are other people out there who understand what you are going through. Chronic illness can be an awfully isolating experience, and I’d really like to combat that feeling.
I don’t think I’ll become a full-time writer as I really enjoy my Practitioner work and watching people’s health improve.
Q: Tell us about Cindy Kennedy. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Cindy Kennedy: I’m actually a real homebody. I’m very lucky to live on beautiful acreage in the Australian bush and our property borders onto a gorgeous river, so I like hanging out with my husband and kids at home and enjoying the peace and quiet.
About Cindy Kennedy
Cindy Kennedy is the author of HELP! MY CHILD HAS HASHIMOTO'S and is the owner of Nutrition Navigator, a Nutritional Medicine Practice in Grafton, NSW. As a qualified Nutritional Medicine Practitioner and mother of two young children both of whom have Hashimoto’s, she is passionate about raising awareness in the community on the plight of families living with invisible illness and helping people overcome their autoimmune and thyroid disease.
Cindy and her family live on a property in country NSW, which gives her a unique and personal insight into the difficulties that come with rural living such as reduced access to community support, mainstream medical care, and complementary Natural Medicine. Through the use of modern technology, Cindy provides the tools via her practice and now her book to enable both city and rural families to access high quality, personalized Nutritional Medicine Services to take charge of their silent disease and live a healthy, productive and fulfilled life.
HELP! MY CHILD HAS HASHIMOTO’S is the book all people dealing with a new hypothyroid diagnosis have been looking for. Finally - a complex condition is broken down into layman’s terms that everyone can understand. Cindy Kennedy, a qualified Nutritional Medicine Practitioner and mother of two young children with Hashimoto’s reveals the secrets to successfully living with this autoimmune disease.
Reading HELP! MY CHILD HAS HASHIMOTO’S is like sitting down with an old friend who has already been through it and wants to share their wisdom with you. It’s all the little things that no one ever tells you about. How to work with, not against your doctors and schools, tricks for preventing constipation and fatigue, how to avoid drowning in the enormous piles of medical paperwork and even dealing with the dreaded Hashimoto’s hair!
Cindy lets her sense of humor shine through as she walks you through her own family’s journey of autoimmune hypothyroidism. Told from the heart, this is not just a how-to book, but an insight into the many ways that Hashimoto’s manifests itself, and how to overcome it to live a happy, healthy and productive life.
I wanted to write this book not as a Nutritional Medicine Practitioner but as a mother, because I have walked the path myself and I know the journey that lies before you. I've taken my child to blood test after blood test, been through the fights to get her to take her medicine, endured the tantrums and meltdowns and even kept written records of her every poo! I've drowned in all the paperwork and had to juggle the seemingly never-ending procession of doctors' appointments. We've had to travel interstate to see specialists and explain to friends why she's just too tired to play. I've sat down with teachers and principals to work out a system that supports her needs. I understand.
This book will take away the feeling of being overwhelmed - of being confronted with so much information that you don't know where to begin. It will break it down into easily digestible chunks can be worked through together as a family, step-by-step at your own pace. I want to alleviate the fears and guilt we feel as parents when our child is diagnosed with a chronic illness. I want to provide support so you don't feel lost and alone like we did. I want you to know that your baby isn't the only child having to deal with this grown-up's disease. Most of all, I want you to have hope. Hope for the future. For your family's future and your child's. I want you to realise that this disease can be managed. It may not be easy, but it is achievable. I want to take you by the hand and lead you through the confusing and overwhelming early days - one step at a time. This book will give you all of the tools that we didn't have, but so desperately needed in those difficult first few months. I want you to know it is going to be okay.
The following pages contain everything you need to get you through the first month or two following their diagnosis. From how to organize the mountain of medical paperwork, to getting your child to take their medicine every day. There are stress management techniques to help you cope and fun activities for your kids to help keep them calm. Symptom and poo diaries are explained along with links to some great apps guaranteed to make your life easier and run a little more smoothly.