Making the most of life with cancer

Tuesday , 23 February 2016 by Aimee Bourke

For people living with secondary breast cancer, access to practical help is essential for maintaining a positive life. Now, a charity offering free support and services for these people and their families has extended their assistance into the South Island.

Established in 2006, Sweet Louise aims to improve the quality of life for hundreds of New Zealand men and women living with secondary breast cancer. The help they provide to their ‘members’ include:

  • Face to face and over the phone support
  • Connections with others living with advanced breast cancer
  • $500 worth of vouchers annually that can be redeemed for treatment, therapies and support that help improve quality of life
  • Various support for partners/husbands and children
  • Referrals to and collaboration with organisations supporting families experiencing cancer.

Until recently, this assistance has only been available in the North Island. However, funding from the Southern Cross Health Trust has enabled the charity to move south – starting with the Canterbury region.

Susan Clark, who has been a member of Sweet Louise since 2012, says she’s more aware now of what’s important in life instead of rushing around.

“I don’t worry about the things I used to. I pace myself a bit better and have a greater awareness of slowing down and spending time with friends and family.”

She says she particularly loves the vouchers, “there are so many choices and it’s a reminder to have time out. I use them for beauty therapy as it’s good to just have time to myself.”

Fiona Hatton, Chief Executive of Sweet Louise, says the financial support from the Southern Cross Health Trust will allow the charity to provide support services in the South Island as well as access to Sweet Louise nurses.

“The feedback we’ve receive from our North Island members talks of enriched lives at a time when they are dealing with a devastating diagnosis. We’re very pleased we can now offer this to all regardless of location.”

Terry Moore, Southern Cross Health Trust CEO, says “It’s vital that people going through the demands of secondary breast cancer (including the families) are well supported, not just physically, but emotionally and financially. Sweet Louise provides this, giving their members the opportunity to focus on the important things and live a positive life.”