In 2005, Scott Perkins established The Louise Perkins Foundation, named after his wife Louise, who passed away in 2004 after living for ten years with incurable (secondary) breast cancer. A year later Sweet Louise was launched to help support women in New Zealand living with incurable breast cancer.
Today, the foundation supports 580 women across the country, including Lyn Cosgrove. She shares her empowering story of hope with MiNDFOOD.
Cosgrove was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer Stage 2 in December 2009. She had surgery for a partial mastectomy of the left breast, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. She received a second diagnosis on February 6, 2015, of Metastatic Breast Cancer to Brain Stage 4 Terminal Cancer (TC).
She had surgery to remove the brain tumour and radiotherapy and is still undergoing (oral) chemotherapy and takes seizure tablets. She heard about Sweet Louise when she walked up to the Cancer Society between waiting for a consult at Auckland Hospital. “They told me about an ‘exclusive membership’ that I might like to join – Sweet Louise. I had the prerequisite to gain automatic admission to this Club by virtue of having TC,” says Cosgrove.
She joined the organisation because she was curious to know more about people that are walking the same path. “Curious firstly, on how other travellers are coping and looking. How long have they been on their medications; what side effects, if any, have or are they currently experiencing (of course with a degree of subtlety).”
“At my first Sweet Louise meeting I was pleasantly surprised, I was greeted by Sweet Louise Support Co-ordinator, Niki Roy and then meeting others yet to become friends. I felt a warmth, all I could do was smile broadly and say ‘hello there’ I’m the new kid on the block. It’s truly amazing how just one smile can be so engaging and disarm any fears,” she says.
When Cosgrove first got the diagnosis of terminal cancer she was shocked. “I felt this was like a repeat of a horror movie stuck on buffering mode, and I was the leading actor. I was questioning myself, did I do, what could I have done better, was there additional stress from work pressures, new build pressures, taking on extra training, less sleep? It was quite a reality check. I needed to be strong, not only for myself but also for my whanau (family) and friends. It is key, that I stay strong.”
Before her big operation, all Cosgrove could think about is whether she would lose a part of herself, “my memories of whanau and friends, my ability to communicate, mental impairment, not fit to perform my role in the firm,” she still works part-time. “All these fears dissipated when I went through my surgery and in recovery. The instant feeling of gratefulness to everyone, I made this with all my faculties intact.
My mantra, quote from the movie, The Help, is “You Is Good; You Is Kind; You Is Important!”
To read Louise Perkins’ story, get a copy of the October Edition of MiNDFOOD New Zealand.