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She was Australia's darling. Now she's a broke, blind single mum.

How do you survive going from fame and fortune to being the blind, broke mum of a chronically ill child? Answer: With a lot of guts.  

Reggie Bird won $250,000 when she took out Big Brother 11 years ago. Now all that money is gone and she’s a single mum struggling to make ends meet.

It was recent hurtful newspaper headlines that lead Reggie to come out publicly and tell her story to Channel Nine’s A Current Affair last night. She says one article in particular, claiming she was about to move into a caravan park, left her in tears. “It really upset me and I was just bawling my eyes out. Why, why do they have to write things like that?”

Reggie won Big Brother 2003, but split with husband Adrian shortly after.

Reggie says a decade after winning Big Brother she is now a single mother of six-year-old Mia and four-year-old Lucas. Her son has been diagnosed with a chronic illness, she's rapidly losing her eyesight and she is broke, living on a disability pension and surviving from fortnight to fortnight.

When asked where all that prize money went she says, "Marriages and lawyers and getting ripped off."

Shortly after leaving the Big Brother house her marriage to first husband Adrian collapsed. She returned to her fish and chip shop in Tasmania but struggled to readjust. Then, Reggie claims that while she was away on a promotional trip her husband met someone else and had an affair. "He was happy to have met someone else," she said.

She paid Adrian $100,000 in the divorce settlement and then got a job working as a flight attendant for Virgin for several months. However the attention she received from the public made it unbearable, as did constant questions from colleagues. "And then I left that because a lot of the girls were quite jealous."

These were dark times that saw Reggie struggling with depression. Her first marriage had failed, then she was scammed out of a further $40,000 of her winnings by a man who promised her a TV show of her own.

Thing soon turned around for the bubbly Reggie when she met second husband Dale. They had two children - Lucas and Mia. However the marriage failed, but not before their son Lucas was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. "We both just cried our eyes out, it was awful, just because we got a friend that their son has got it so we know what they've gone through."

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"You just think the worst is gonna happen. I still do when he gets a cough or a cold."

Reggie is now mum to six-year-old Mia and four-year-old Lucas who has cystic fibrosis

Each night Reggie performs a series of pats on her young son's chest and back to help his lungs to work throughout the night. She says she often stays awake at night listening to the heartbreaking sound of him struggling to breath. "And he's lying there and I can hear him breathing...he's just struggling to breathe and it breaks your heart."

And if that's not enough, Reggie has been losing her eyesight for the past 10 years due to a condition called Rentititis Pigmentosa. "It's like tunnel vision, it's like looking through a pinhole." Over the next five years her remaining sight will go and she will be blind but she is holding out hope that she retains enough sight to see daughter Mia get married.

Despite her hardship, Reggie knows she's lucky. "There's worse people in the world off than me so snap out of it." While she's moved on from a bout of depression, she does hope to find a job but knows this will be a challenge as she is sight-impaired and is caring for a chronically ill child.

Reggie has plans to write a book about her life. When asked if she regrets going on Big Brother she said, "Not at all. So much has happened over the, you know, all this time but I'd go back in for sure. I'd do it all again."

Images and story courtesy of A Current Affair on Channel Nine.

Send your messages of support to Reggie and her family in the comments section below.

Reggie has certainly been through a lot over the past 10 years. Here are all the highlights, including lots of photos of her beautiful children Lucas and Mia:

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