Mary Humphreys’ enthusiasm for life hasn’t been robbed by a rare condition that almost killed her. Every morning she wakes up excited about the challenges her new career of baking and decorating cakes will bring to the day.
I have a choice – I can either keep going or stop and die, she says.
It took a trip to Britain to obtain family death certificates that helped confirm Mary’s blood clotting condition called, antiphospholipid syndrome, had been inherited. She believes there are only a few families in the world known to have the condition.
Twenty-two years ago clots in her lower right leg led to it being amputated below the knee.
But with her prosthetic leg, the vice-president of the Amputee Society of the Greater Wellington Region drives, enjoys rock ‘n’ roll and line dancing and has even skied, biked, skydived and paddle boarded.
She once flew to Australia where she wrapped herself in Christmas paper and then put a wrapped box over herself. Her two grandchildren, unaware she was in their country, were invited to unwrap the giant parcel in their backyard. Eventually they found their grandmother inside, perched on a stool.
It was several years ago that the condition caused a life and death crisis affecting her digestive system and it was some time before her health improved.
The Porirua woman has swapped a 30-year hairdressing career for her cake decorating passion dating back to childhood. She describes this as an artistic gift. It’s now become her ‘second chance career’.
Mary also enjoys the scientific challenge of baking such requests as vegan, dairy-free, diabetic and gluten-free cakes.
But damage to her digestive system means she is now restricted to a near liquid diet plus supplements, so tasting her cakes is out of the question. That’s where husband, Dave, fits in because he has become the chief taster.
And Mary has a further complication in life – she’s been profoundly deaf since the age of about three. She can speak perfectly but relies on lip-reading to communicate.
Mary and Dave belong to the North Porirua Baptist Church in Whitby where another member translates what’s said into sign language for her.
Mary took formal cake decorating classes at Newlands College with tutor, Erica Upjohn and then joined the Petone Cake Guild .She won two trophies at the annual 2017 Wellington Sugarcraft competition held at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt, just the third time she entered.
Encouragement by her tutors and Guild members has been greatly appreciated and Mary gives this credit for her success.
Communication with prospective customers is by email and text.
She enjoys the challenge of creativity and says her cakes have the added ingredient of being made with love.
Mary credits her Christian faith for much of her positive outlook and happiness in life.
“My advice to anyone facing the challenges I have faced is that you must keep a good attitude and believe that your life will be blessed.
“Without a positive mindset I wouldn’t be where I am now and wouldn’t be enjoying the lovely life I have.
Keep thinking of the good things in your life and surround yourself with the right people. Negative people will drain your energy and your energy is too precious for that. Make sure your inner circle is full of people who fill you with happiness, confidence and love.
“I believe that my faith in God has carried me through everything I have endured, ” she says.