Vanessa Laub was visiting her GP for a cough when it was revealed she had a condition that would ultimately change her life.
Vanessa Laub was visiting her GP for a cough when it was revealed she had a condition that would ultimately change her life.

Cough led to woman’s ‘horrific’ diagnosis

As a young girl, Vanessa Laub lived a very active life. She was a dancer with big dreams, but when she visited her doctor over a stubborn cough, little did she know it would result in a life-changing diagnosis.

The Brisbane local was just 12 years old when it was revealed she had severe scoliosis.

She was told by doctors that by the age of 21 she would never able to walk again.

As a very active person the news was a lot for the young student to take in at the time.

But fast forward to now, the 42-year-old defied all odds.

Despite her condition, Ms Laub went on to become a personal trainer and mother-of-three boys.

However, it wasn't an easy journey for Ms Laub who a few years later was also told if she didn't have a major spinal journey, she wouldn't be able to have children.

"It all started when I was 12 and went to the see the doctor for a cough. After he checked my chest he noticed one side of my back was raised more than the other," she told news.com.au

It was then when Ms Laub was diagnosed with scoliosis - a curvature of the spine.

"I am short in height, but apparently if you grow too fast, it can happen," she said.

An X-ray of Vanessa’s spine from 18 months ago, showing the curvature. Picture: Vanessa Laub
An X-ray of Vanessa’s spine from 18 months ago, showing the curvature. Picture: Vanessa Laub

 

For the next four years, Ms Laub was forced to wear a neck brace which she had on for 23 hours a day, seven days a week, describing it as a "horrific experience".

"I was thinking, 'This is going to be hard at school,' and it was, I got bullied for it - they would call me a robot because it forced me to stand-up tall and so people teased me because of that and other hurtful things."

The brace went from underneath her breast, down to her pubic bone and was made of plastic and velcro.

"It was done up so tight to help stop the curve from getting worse," she said.

However, the brace failed to work, and by the age of 16 Ms Laub's condition had worsened. "Eventually doctors said they needed to operate, and that's when I said no."

 

She was told she would be in a wheelchair by the age of 21. Picture: Vanessa Laub
She was told she would be in a wheelchair by the age of 21. Picture: Vanessa Laub

 

She was also told she pregnancy would put too much pressure on her spine. Picture: Vanessa Laub
She was also told she pregnancy would put too much pressure on her spine. Picture: Vanessa Laub

"The doctors wanted to put rods in the back on either side of my spine, however if you have that surgery you may never have the flexibility to bend over again, and that's why I refused it," she said.

Instead, she decided to find alternate ways to manage her condition, so she resumed dancing and swimming.

Ms Laub said it was key to changing her life as it helped to build her core strength and in turn support her back and correct her posture.

Even though she was told she would be wheelchair-bound and unable to manage pregnancy, she went on to have three children.

"I really wanted to be a mum and they said if you get pregnant, that weight you will carry in the front will cause you an awful lot of trouble - but it didn't. I even continued hip hop, jazz and tap which helped with my fitness and flexibility," Ms Laub said.

 

Exercise helped build her core strength in order to support her back. Picture: Vanessa Laub
Exercise helped build her core strength in order to support her back. Picture: Vanessa Laub

However, she was confronted with another obstacle when her eldest son Jett was born with cerebral palsy.

"He can't walk or talk and I have to carry him everywhere - and having scoliosis, I knew at some point I wasn't going to be able to carry him unless I became stronger and built enough strength to support my back," she said.

So at 33, she got herself a personal trainer and started doing weight-based training.

"It really helped me mentally and physically that I became addicted to the feeling of being strong."

Now at 42, Ms Laub continues to carry her now 18-year-old son who weighs the same as her - 50kg.

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She also went on to have three boys, which was all the more reason she needed to build her strength after having to lift her son Jett, 18, who has cerebral palsy. Picture: Vanessa Laub
She also went on to have three boys, which was all the more reason she needed to build her strength after having to lift her son Jett, 18, who has cerebral palsy. Picture: Vanessa Laub

 

Vanessa with her husband John on their honeymoon in 2016. Picture: Vanessa Laub
Vanessa with her husband John on their honeymoon in 2016. Picture: Vanessa Laub

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"When my body started to change I had so many people ask, 'How did you do that,' and thought, maybe I can help other people."

Ms Laub went on to become a qualified personal trainer at Goodlife Health Club in Carindale, Brisbane, with her client base mainly people with an intellectual or physical challenge.

"I've been there ever since I started my journey seven years ago," she said.

"I feel really privileged and inspired by all the people I train."

She said during her divorce at 37, it was her clients who helped her through yet another tough time in her life.

"Seeing them inspires me every day," Ms Laub said.

 

With a packed weekly schedule of clients, the Brisbane mum, who remarried two years after her divorce, always finds the time to get her fitness in.

She begins her day at 4am lifting heavy weights and doing functioned-based training to help maintain her much-needed strength, including a daily plank of 14 minutes.

"I make time for myself. I schedule it in my diary and some of my clients actually prefer it if I train with them," she said.

"Their journey and achieving their goals is what continues to inspire me."

If you've got a transformation story you'd like to share, get in touch with shireen.khalil@news.com.au

Originally published as Cough led to woman's 'horrific' diagnosis



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