Breast cancer, it might be considered the "fun, pink cancer" by many, but for those of us at the eye of the storm it's far from fluffy pink fun. Isolating and terrifying, it challenges who we are as woman and the very essence of our femininity.
Shocking Pink offers incredible support to young women riding through the pink storm. Until someone says "Me too sister" you don't really understand that the shared experiences of other young women are just what the oncologist ordered.
When I was diagnosed at 37 I discovered Shocking Pink quite quickly. In the safe nurturing environment of the group I was able to share fears and hopes, ask questions and in turn offer support to other young kiwi woman.
The next step for me was being brave enough to take part in a Shocking Pink retreat. An annual meeting of the incredible women of Shocking Pink at an equally incredible location. I pulled up my big girl knickers and registered for Queenstown. Apologising in advance for my social awkwardness I followed through and headed south. As soon as I met the Christchurch contingency at the airport I felt at ease. These were my people, my fellow wahine warriors. Queenstown was so incredible in a huge number of ways.
Being able to just be with people and know there were no explanations required for my newly growing hair, my flat and scarred chest or my bloated and tired body gave me a sense of ease that I'd not had for quite a while.
The friendships forged in the commonality of cancer trauma, the humour that is so very dark and the genuine embraces and understanding were the highlights of my time at retreat.
Then there are the incredible activities and experiences, hilarious nights of dancing and fun. Traveling across Lake Wakatipu for an unforgettable lunch at Walter Peak Station absolutely stunned us all. Simply exquisite.
Thoughtfulness is the key ingredient when the phenomenal Shocking Pink committee work tirelessly to plan and piece together retreat each year. They want us all to feel welcome, supported and loved, they've been in our shoes and so retreat is just what the oncologist ordered, the perfect prescription.
by Sarah Bartlett