Sarah Avis

Sarah is a 42-year-old South African who moved to the UAE with her husband and three daughters at the beginning of 2002. A year later in May of 2003 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a mastectomy on the left side and found out afterwards that it luckily hadn’t spread (or so they thought) since all 15 lymph nodes tested negative. Sarah did 6 months of chemotherapy and a year later, had reconstructive surgery. She went into remission and was very relieved when she reached her 5 year milestone…until she started experiencing pain in her pelvis and hips that were so bad she could barely walk.

After CT and bone scans were done the doctors informed her that not only was her breast cancer back, but that it had progressed to stage 4. Sarah was devastated.  She remembers being so afraid that she couldn’t eat or sleep, and had to remind herself at times to just take the next breathe. Without having any time to even process what was happening to her, she was rapidly plunged by her doctors into an aggressive treatment plan that involved 3 months of radiation therapy followed by a further 9 months of chemotherapy.

What kept Sarah going were her mother’s wise words that she always used to utter whenever she was in a moment of despair; “God only expects you to take it one day at a time, one moment at a time.”

Once the chemo had ended, Sarah started seeing light at the end of the tunnel.  Through all of the despair one thing was clear, “there was no way I was going down without a fight. Not with three young daughters to raise”.  Sarah promised her husband that they would go back to Malaysia again on their 20th wedding anniversary.  “I have 4 years to go, and come hell or high water I will be there!”

Sarah is now in partial remission with everything well under control. With the help of a dietician and regular exercise she has reclaimed her health and her life.

Her reason for wanting to go on the Antarctica expedition is to raise awareness for the cause, especially in the UAE where unbelievably, there is still a stigma attached to breast cancer, resulting in so many women not seeking help until it’s too late.

Sarah is writing a book on breast cancer which she hopes to have published in the near future. It is a book that will hopefully bring hope and inspiration to others, especially newly diagnosed women.

Sarah is determined to teach her three daughters a valuable lesson by example – to tackle whatever life throws at you head on, and to never ever give up, to always have a sense of adventure and embrace and appreciate every day, every minute, and every second.