Vivo are proud to be ongoing supporters of Sweet Louise, offering free hair and beauty services to nominated members. This October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we will be sharing some of their heartbreaking, inspiring, and beautiful stories with you.
SARAH OLSEN'S STORY
Being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer is never going to be an easy thing. In fact, it’s one of the most harrowing pieces of news a person can receive. But like in many trying times in life, having a like-minded, strong community around you to help navigate difficult terrain can make an enormous difference.
Sweet Louise member Sarah Olsen is visiting her Vivo stylist Eileen at Te Atatu Salon today, as she tells the story of her own journey.
Sarah was first told she had breast cancer in 2012, it was the start of an arduous and painful cycle of treatment and new cancer diagnosis. “In 2013 and 2014 I was treated for the breast cancer,” she recalls. “Then in January 2016 I woke up with strange voice. The doctor found tumours in my sternum.” After another year of treatment, Sarah was at a school pick up when suddenly a violent migraine struck her. A brain tumor was found, and Sarah endured an operation to try and cut the tumour from her out, her hair shaved off and a no driving ban imposed for 6 months. “But the cancer was too far gone then.”
“In Sweet Louise, they give me a better view of what is out there, they give me more knowledge. We can just talk.”
And this is where Sweet Louise came in, giving Sarah a quality and normality to life that seemed to be disappearing quickly. “I wish I had been in contact with them earlier, but I wasn’t aware of them!” Sarah says. It was Sweet Louise who reached out to Sarah, connecting her with others who could band around her in a unique way. “Doctors and nurses can talk to you about cancer, but they are not going through the illness so can seem very matter of fact.” Sweet Louise, on the other hand, put Sarah into a network where free, open and honest discussion was encouraged. “They give me a better view of what is out there, they give me more knowledge. We can just talk.”
When asked what Sarah would like people to know about having Stage 4 cancer, she says this: “It is an incurable cancer, some members have an expectancy of a couple of years. But we still want to feel like we matter, like we are part of society.” Vivo understands that all women want to feel confident no matter what their circumstance, so has been a long time supporter of Sweet Louise, offering free makeovers and discount vouchers to the nominated members. "Vivo understands what we are going through - even if your hair is growing strangely or different lengths, their stylists are understanding. They just want you to have a normal salon experience.” Cancer is, of course, very disruptive from your normal life and it affects your whole family. “Going out and doing normal things like having my hair done really makes me feel like I’m a normal person again!” Sarah smiles.
Content by Tereze Taber
ABOUT SWEET LOUISE
In 2005, Scott Perkins established Sweet Louise, named after his late-wife who had died from incurable breast cancer. Today, Sweet Louise supports hundreds of women across New Zealand who are living with metastatic breast cancer, to help them feel supported and cared for in their journey.