She’s co-hosted countless TV shows over the last few years, has interviewed some of the biggest celebs in the world (hello, Beyonce!), and has even penned two books – one on her personal life, and the other on delicious smoothie recipes.
Here, Sally shares her breast cancer story, and how she had found comfort in her friends, family, and Avon’s breast cancer project.
Describe the day you were diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.
“I mentioned to my GP about a lump I’d found in my breast. He immediately booked me in to get a test done. Looking back at it now, I probably should have realised why he seemed so concerned with getting me booked in so quickly, but I honestly didn’t even think about it. Even after I went and had the test done, it never crossed my mind that something could actually be wrong. Then the doctor took me into the office and told me I had stage 3 breast cancer, that it was very aggressive and that immediate action was needed. I was in utter shock. I always describe it like skipping through a field of daisies singing and laughing and then being shot from behind. You do not see it coming. I cried. I was overcome with grief. Not only did I have to get my head around the fact that I had cancer at the age of 37, but that it meant I didn’t get any of the motherhood experiences I had longed for with my new baby. It was one of the worst days of my life.”
What helped you get through the year of tough treatments?
“I could not have done it without my family and friends. First of all, there was Annabelle. Every time I looked at my baby, I knew I didn’t have any other choice but to fight. At first, I didn’t really want help from anyone even though I could see how badly they wanted to help me. Eventually I decided it was that it was okay to enlist support from friends and family. For me, it was little things like asking someone to please watch Annabelle after I’ve put her to bed so Marcus and I can walk around the corner and have dinner together. We had a food roster too, where a friend or family member would come over and cook dinner for the night when I barely enough energy to move. Other times, I just wanted my sister to come and watch TV with me. It was all those little things that made the biggest difference.”
Looking back at your experience, what’s one thing you’ve gained?
“Life is short – I know that now. It’s not a given that you will live to a ripe old age. So don’t take anything for granted, and honestly try really hard to enjoy every day that you’ve been blessed enough to have, because so many people aren’t.”
Is there any advice you’d give your younger self when you found out about the cancer news?
“Never lose hope.”
What’s your best advice for others who are going through the breast cancer treatment process?
“Be kind to yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s a battle so every little bit of love and kindness makes a difference.”
Did being sick change the way you live your life now?
“My body had been battered from all the chemo, so I really had to focus on rebuilding my body from the inside out. That’s where green smoothies came in – a daily green smoothie helped me shed over 15kg that I had put on during pregnancy and chemo, they helped my skin to glow again, my hair and nails to grow back and best of all, to get a tonne of energy. I was able to start exercising more and taking downtime when I needed it too. It’s also changed the way I live now in terms of my attitude. I tend to move on a lot quicker when things go wrong. I don’t worry as much. I will often say, ‘If no one has died, then really it’s not a big deal’. It just helps puts small things into perspective.”
Tell us about Avon’s partnership with the ANZBCTG, and how you got involved with it.
“Over the years, Avon has funded numerous breast cancer trial groups that have saved the lives of so many women. The Australian and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group (ANZBCTG) conducts numerous, very expensive research programs that use new molecular and genetic research to create treatments for younger and older women diagnosed with breast cancer and new prevention strategies for more women. The funding they have received from Avon is vital. They have also funded the Encore program, which is designed to help women who have experienced mastectomy, lumpectomy or breast reconstruction surgery. They really have made a world of difference. That’s why when they approached me and asked me to be an ambassador, I had no doubt in my mind that the answer was yes.”
What does being an ambassador for this cause mean to you?
“I’ve been a huge fan of the brand ever since I was young. However, it wasn’t until I found out the research my own oncologist used came from the Avon funded trials groups, that I developed a deep personal connection with the brand. The ANZBCTG’s research programs are so vital for improving breast cancer survival rates. However, it can take a really long time for these programs to get results. The more funding they get, the more likely it is for them to get reliable research results at the earliest opportunity. That’s why being an ambassador for Avon is so important to me. I hate the thought of anyone having to go through what I did and I want to be a part of making sure we can find a cure.”
You’ve got an amazing smoothie book out at the moment, is clean eating something you’ve always embraced?
“My sister, Maha Koraiem (who I wrote SUPER GREEN SMOOTHIES with) and I have been absolutely overwhelmed with the kind of feedback we’ve been getting. Every day we are bombarded with comments, emails, Instagram messages from people raving about how they’ve had weight loss, extra energy, better moods. It’s so encouraging to hear that other people have been benefiting from the smoothies in the same way we did. For us clean eating is about food that tastes amazing but also powers you up from the inside so that you feel amazing too. Once you start to feel the energy and see the difference in your skin and hair and nails it becomes a no brainer. That’s why we created the SUPER GREEN SMOOTHIES 30 Day Challenge – to help people develop a super green and clean lifestyle. One participant has lost 17kgs in 16 weeks. We can’t wipe the smile off our face and neither can she.”