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Dara Shashoua and Amanda Campbell are kickass women living with MS

75% of the 26,500 Australians living with MS are women. Kickass women doing impressive things, like our members Dara Shashoua and Amanda Campbell, who are living life to its fullest, despite living with an illness. In addition to running successful businesses, they’re helping others also living with a chronic illness or disability to believe in what can be possible in their minds, bodies and careers, despite the setbacks they face.

Dara Shashoua is the founder of Byzantine Design, a beautiful retail store in Prahran, supplying and servicing clients Australia-wide. Six weeks after opening the store in Melbourne, she flew to Sydney and fell over while walking through a shopping mall. That fall was the catalyst for her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. While many encouraged her to close up shop, she refused. Determined to keep her dream alive, she hired a team to manage the store while she went to rehab to learn to walk again.

Dara is also behind the A Chronic Entrepreneur blog, sharing stories of entrepreneurs living with chronic Illness.

Dara, what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs living with a chronic illness?

  • Prioritise sleep, it is the best thing you can do for your body and mind.
  • Keep a physical record of all of your test results, that way you can be the best advocate for yourself.
  • Get out in nature, I am lucky enough to live near the beach so on weekends I take my dog and we walk for around an hour each day. My chiro once told me small spaces equals small thoughts, big places equal big thoughts. There’s nothing like standing at the edge of the ocean to realise how insignificant we are.
  • Be kind to yourself, you are doing the best you can.
  • Find a good support network of other business owners. No one understands the issues of running a business like another owner.
  • Outsource what you hate doing. I outsourced bookkeeping and accounting as soon as I could afford it. The stress of dealing with the ATO was too much for me.
  • Focus on what makes you money. If you spend four hours doing your BAS could you spend four hours making sales which offsets the cost of doing your BAS.

How have you built resilience, and what tips can you share for others looking to?

Have a good network of friends that are entrepreneurs and those who aren’t. Sometimes you need to speak about business stuff and sometimes you need to not talk about business.

Have something that you do where you can switch off. Going to the movies was always my safe space, no one could contact me and for two hours I was transported to another place.

Some days you just go through the motions and that is OK. When I was really sick, I would go and sit in the shop wearing an eyepatch. I could barely walk, and I watched TV shows, but I went to work. If I didn’t do that there is no way I could have mentally gotten through everything else I needed to.

Believe in yourself and remember why you started.

Amanda Campbell is an MS Ambassador and founder of Bend Like Bamboo, a program, podcast, and workplace workshop, all designed to maximise resilience and health. As a Sports Kinesiologist and resilience trainer, Amanda believes that flexibility boosts resilience. With a flexible mindset, we can master change and re-imagine what can be possible in our mind, body, and life. Overcoming a paralysis at age 29 from MS, Amanda discovered that a flexible mindset impacts everything that matters: our body’s ability to repair, how happy and resilient we are and how connected we feel.

Amanda, what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs living with a chronic illness?

When we are stressed, we focus on what we don’t want and worst-case scenarios. We are typically stuck overthinking the past or overanalysing the future. This autopilot state promotes a stress response, and it also impacts our ability to perform at our best.

You know those days when you feel good? You are more adaptable to change and you are able to perform at your best. To Bend Like Bamboo is to capture our most malleable and flexible state. It is important to feel good, particularly in times of change, so that we can step out of our comfort zone. It is from this mindset that we can re-imagine what can be possible in our minds, bodies and lives.

How have you built resilience, and what tips can you share for others looking to?

Every day you will wash your body, so how do you wash your mind of yesterday’s stories and old redundant beliefs that may be holding you back? Try journaling daily to wash and empty your mind. Starting the day writing down your intention, can set up your brain to focus more on what you want and the positive throughout the day. This helps us to be more creative, innovative, and happier human beings.

Another great way to capture an optimal morning mindset is to meditate at the start of the day, because it can elevate your mindset. Just as a CEO must navigate their business from a bird’s eye view, when we can see our day from a higher perspective, we are less reactive, we can see our day’s tasks from more angles and situations from other people’s perspectives.

A happy mind is connected to a happy body when we are nourishing it with happy foods. Look after yourself and no matter how busy you get, keep your self-care routines in the diary as scheduled meetings.


30 May is World MS Day, a day that brings the global MS community together to share stories, raise awareness, and campaign with everyone affected by multiple sclerosis. You can find out more about it here.

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