Catch Up

A Brush with Death

This year as I have enjoyed slowing down the speed of life, I’ve spent more time with women who have been facing the imminent possibility of death. And while this has been sobering it also has been inspiring.

In February, I had the privilege of being the chemo buddy for a close friend during her last and thankfully successful set of treatments. The same month I watched another  who was not as lucky, leave this earth after a particular long walk with cancer.

Over July and August I jumped on board the massive Pink Ribbons Calendar Girls project. Then, come November, my mahjong buddies and I held our fourth annual private fundraising event again for Breast Cancer.

I’m not looking for a medal here by the way, but I wanted to share my biggest observation through all these experiences – women are incredible.

Be it the all female nursing staff at the chemo clinic who instil dignity and grace into an otherwise harrowing situation, to that unforgettable group of gals who linked arms to form a circle of love at the intimate farewelling of our friend…women are incredible

From the small cluster of high-octane working women organising a last minute fundraising bash, via email and text (and raising a cool $40k in two hours I might add) ….to the large and diverse extended network of women bound by one thing, a brush with death,  who clubbed together to create the calendar girls project. Women are incredible.  Each and every one of you.

I have been moved, humbled and inspired by all these experiences, which have brought me new friends and new meaning to the word friendship.

It takes just one woman with heart to spark spirit in another, and then female momentum just takes over.
Take Liz Oliver. You may know the story – Liz, 49, survived breast cancer a few years ago and was disappointed that no “big inspiration” had come to her after the episode.

But then one day, unexpectedly, she had a vision which culminated in a collaboration with her brother Sir Richard Taylor from Weta Workshops to body paint the terminally ill but infinitely inspiring Helena MacAlpine.  The image was breathtaking and as things seem to do, the small art project snowballed into an ambitious calendar campaign featuring 12 images of body painted breast cancer survivors.

Less than a week before the mammoth photo shoot, I was introduced to Liz over email and she explained the idea.  Her passion enthused me and next minute I was barking orders at her down the phone, and arranging a small crew to film the shoot with me interviewing the key players.

Being involved albeit in a small way has been a highlight of the year. I’ve attached the little film which will forever be a reminder of that special couple of days when a bunch of strangers, mainly women, (some of them naked!) came together to send a message to as many other women as possible. A message of Hope (as they are all survivors) and Vigilance  (remember to get your mammogram.)

I salute Liz and all the women who gave their time wholeheartedly  to this big project. If it sells out at Whitcoulls, the calendar will raise $100k for the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation.

To help it further on its way I am selling them too! Not that I want to become an ecommerce blog but if you are inspired enough to want a calendar for yourself or as a gift, I have some at $25 each – just email me at if you are interested.

(It really is beautiful and the personal messages from all the women, from Jools Top to the Pink Dragonboat Team, are very special)

Yes, women are incredible and I thank you all for reading this, supporting me, making a difference, raising money, doing your bit, rearing the citizens of tomorrow, running companies, running households, sometimes running on empty and hardly ever running a bath…. you rock!




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