The pursuit of joy

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Kendra (left) with May, one of the women she supports in Northland

“I enjoy working in healthcare as I love being with people,” says Kendra Ellis, Sweet Louise Support Coordinator for Northland and North Auckland. Kendra has always worked in healthcare and has a background in community nursing and palliative care.

“I get so much satisfaction in being able to guide and support people when they are vulnerable or sick. You can see the positive effects of your work and know that you’re making a difference.

“I think the Sweet Louise values of compassion and connection are so important to this role. I love that I get the opportunity to enjoy people and enjoy their spirit, that soul connection, and to celebrate the resilience of our members.

“It’s important to get to the point where a member will feel comfortable to share their vulnerable side. Many of us present a strong, brave face when we first meet. I appreciate the opportunity to build a trusting relationship where the challenges, burdens and vulnerabilities can be shared. We get the change to stand alongside members during the lows and the uphill struggles, as well as be with them to celebrate the joys.

“Through this role I also enjoy being an advocate for women’s health. I might call an oncologist to get someone an appointment. Or I might speak out on someone’s behalf to say they need an interpreter.

“The Sweet Louise point of difference though is that it doesn’t feel medical – rather it’s holistic, emotional and spiritual. And that we find different ways to meet someone’s needs – some love to share thoughts and questions in the online support group page, others love the meetings, others like a one-on-one chat with their Support Coordinator.

“Sweet Louise stands out in the breast cancer field as not simply symptom management but looking after mental and emotional wellbeing.”

“It’s not always about medical treatments but asking what will bring me joy today – whether it’s taking a walk, art, having a coffee with a friend or laughter with friends and family. I love that Sweet Louise promotes the pursuit of finding joy in things around us and recognising the things that bring us happiness.

“I really enjoy the support meetings and witnessing the connections and friendships that develop between members. It’s wonderful to be able to provide the opportunity for those friendships to blossom.

“We couldn’t provide any of this support without our New Zealand donors. Support Coordinators are the face of the organisation, but our donors are the awesome team behind us making it possible. I wish our supporters could see and hear first-hand the difference their support makes. We are very lucky to have this support.”