Surrounded by grandchildren Phillip Pensio (left) and Shanice Havili (far right), and wife Marcia Pensio, Poy Pensio found the inspiration to turn his life around after a heart attack at the age of 45. He is now helping others do the same.
Surrounded by grandchildren Phillip Pensio (left) and Shanice Havili (far right), and wife Marcia Pensio, Poy Pensio found the inspiration to turn his life around after a heart attack at the age of 45. He is now helping others do the same. Sharyn Oneill

Heart attack victim helping others

POY Pensio was only 45 when he had a heart attack and doctors warned him he had less than five years to live.

That was 11 years ago. Today Poy is still alive and well.

He is now campaigning to save other lives as well.

The Torres Strait Islander admitted he was overweight, a heavy smoker, heavy drinker and had eaten the wrong types of food all his life.

"I did all the bad things."

But it was his family - his wife, children and grandchildren that inspired Poy to get his life on track and prove the doctors wrong.

"They were the turning point, they were worth living for," Poy said.

He turned his life around by bringing back traditional practices of his people and incorporating them into modern ways.

He ate healthy traditional foods like yams and drank water instead of alcohol and soft drinks.

"I went back in time."

Not only did Poy embrace a healthy lifestyle, he also embraced his spiritual, cultural and mental health, something he said many indigenous people need to do.

"Indigenous people, we are dying 30 years younger than non-indigenous in Australia."

Inspired by his own success, the former Queensland Health worker has put together a program to help others who are in the same situation as him.

"If I can, they can."

He started the program in Torres Strait with success, and has branched out in different locations around Queensland.

He estimated he had already saved the lives of 100 people through the program.

Poy brought his healthy lifestyle program to Rockhampton three weeks ago, and has already started working with 30 different families.

Joined with the Bidgerdii Community Health Service in Rockhampton, Closing the Gap 'Rocky Way' program is all about family support.

He said the program is aimed at combating chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, blood pressure and cholesterol as well as the obvious issues of smoking, alcohol abuse and drug use.

He hopes the program will be fully established here within 12 months and will become a permanent fixture in the community.

He believes 90% of families find the changes quite easy to adapt to.

For those who don't believe the changes can be made, Poy said all they needed to do was look his way.

"I am living proof," he said.

 

Who to contact:

Bidgerdii Community Health Service

162 Bolsover St

Ph: 4930 4600



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