In 2012, Amy Pejkovic’s shiny, happy life took a turn for the worst. In pursuit of selection for the Australian team for the London Olympic Games and getting regular work as a model, the high jumper was diagnosed with a brain tumour at aged 19. But five years on from the successful removal of the tumour, and we are thrilled with news that Pejkovic is back in training – taking a crack at Australian team selection for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020. But while her body is getting back on track (excuse the pun), she continues to deal with the mental effects of her illness.
On a recent shoot with the Popsugar team, Pejkovic chatted intimately with the title’s Health and Fitness Editor Carina Rossi: “I have kind of gotten over the physical side of being sick, but the past two years, for me, have been more of a mental battle. My surgeon warned me that within six months after a major surgery like mine, people can suffer from depression. It’s kind of like post-traumatic stress disorder.
“But six months came and went and I seemed okay. However, my diagnosis really impacted my mum. She suffered from it at around the six month mark, but I was fine. I was like, ‘What is wrong with you all, why are you all getting so upset?’ It wasn’t until a year and a half to two years later it hit me and I’ve kind of been battling my inner demons and mental stuff for a while.”
“I started to think about it every day — all the time. I would have dreams about me dying, my friends dying. I don’t know what it was, but even now I’m still scared of everything and I don’t know why. I’ll just go to training sessions and be petrified of jumping, I’ll be scared of jumping over a bar, which is crazy because it’s something I used to be so confident at. I just don’t have the confidence at the moment, but I know it’s something I have to work on.”
She went on to reveal: “What I went through affected me in ways I didn’t think it would. You think it will be like, ‘Oh, I’ve had a brain tumour, that’s in the past now,’ but it affects all aspects of your life, it’s really strange.”
But don’t count Pejkovic down and out. Currently reading Face Your Fear: Living with Courage in an Age of Caution by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the athlete is determined to get back on the horse and is positive about her future: ”All my friends and family have been encouraging. I’m sure there are people who doubt I’ll come back, but there’s always those people in the world. I’ll just prove them wrong, I guess.”
Click here to see the article and shoot in full at Popsugar.