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The Strength from Within

Two much-loved Toowoomba Grammar School staff members have recently been undergoing cancer treatment. Former Head of Careers and VET Mrs Stacy Nottle and former art teacher Miss Leanne Penberthy drew on their strength from within to publish books about their experiences.

Miss Penberthy has self-published a unique and inspiring coffee table book to help motivate others facing their own difficult journey. She was diagnosed with neuroendocrine carcinoma (a small cell cancer in her sinuses) in August 2019 after suffering migraines and double vision.

Miss Penberthy sadly resigned from TGS early this year to continue her cancer treatment. She had been an art teacher at TGS for twenty years and felt a significant gap in her life when her illness forced her to step away from teaching and lose her valued interaction with her students.

As part of her healing process, Leanne has cleverly combined iconic artwork, knowledge of birds and motivational text to craft a work that resonates not only with cancer patients but anybody experiencing challenging times.

“My idea was to find a link between humanity and nature by creating a transformation which complements the reader’s surroundings,” stated Leanne.

“I used well-recognised compositions as my inspiration and foundation. I then chose birds because of their individuality. Their unique colours, beauty and soaring flights of freedom offer a different perspective of our world.”

Leanne’s insight and courage are inspiring, and her words of wisdom, both relatable and straightforward, transform feelings of distress and despair into that of hope and strength.

“I’m working to detach myself from worldly concerns. The ‘bird’ in me wants to heal, bring new hope and share the joy I find in everyday pleasures. I want my paintings to make you smile,” said Leanne.

A Little Bird Told Me is available at lallypen58@gmail.com

Former Head of Careers and VET for the past 15 years, Stacy Nottle was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.

“When you receive a cancer diagnosis, your life can change very quickly,” said Stacy.

“I went from being a busy professional to being stuck at home with no immune system. I’d always enjoyed writing, and I began to write as a form of distraction.”

At first, Stacy just allowed the words to fall out of her head and onto the page.

“There was no judgement, and after a time of writing like this every day, something quite wonderful began to happen. I started to realise that this journey was unlike any I had ever taken before. Rather than leading me outwards into the world, it was taking me home to myself,” said Stacy.

The writing was her therapy and helped process the experience she was dealing with both mentally and emotionally. Breastless is an honest, raw, slightly embarrassing, and humorous account of Stacy’s experiences with life and breast cancer, supported by a fantastic collection of quotes and anecdotes that will be sure to inspire.

“The book tackles many of the topics that make us vulnerable as women – friendship, grief and loss, self-doubt, femininity and coping with the internal dialogue inside our heads,” said Stacy.

Her book launch and brunch fundraiser were held at her friend Liz Wagner’s house and followed the mantra “Community, friendship, art: stirred together, they make a powerful magic. Used wisely, it can save your life. I know that it saved mine.” (Terri Windling, Welcome to Bordertown)

Through an art auction and proceeds from the brunch, they raised $15,000 for Blush Cancer Care.

Breastless is Stacy’s second book, her other was a fiction novel called After The Floods which was published in 2019. Stacy says there will probably be more on the way.

Copies are available via stacynottleauthor.com, the Booktree on Ruthven St or online bookstores.