Feature - Sara Cohen

I’m Sara. I’m 47 and was first diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2015. After 5 years of being NED,  in April I was told my cancer had spread and is now stage 4.  

There is, of course, a lot more to me than cancer. I’m a stubborn, tenacious, adventure-loving brit,  living in New Zealand. 


I live in Nelson with my husband Tomas. In 2010 after my mum passed away from leukaemia, I took a two-month break from my 15-year career in advertising, travelling around England in the family camper van in the depths of winter. In that time I discovered an untouched landscape where nature told me millions of tiny stories, which I photographed and turned into prints. The result was the inspiration behind my first collection. Following my sabbatical, I quit my job and haven’t looked back.  I launched Sara C, a womenswear print label in 2010, until 2015 when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. 


After a year of treatment I started looking for swimwear that suited my active lifestyle and offered me the level of protection I needed to cover up my radiation burns. When it came to it all I could find were skimpy bikinis or something that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Victorian gothic novel.  So when I moved to New Zealand 3 years ago, and the timeI spent playing outdoors increased, I still couldn’t find what I was looking for. Not one to back down from a challenge I decided that if I  couldn’t find it, I would create it. So last July I launched Hākinakina - an eco UPF 50+ Sun protection  Swimwear brand. I am, and continue to be, passionate about creating beautiful pieces that protect women and give them the freedom to play outdoors without worry.


Then in April this year, my world fell apart. I was told that my cancer had returned, and had spread to my lung and bones. This time it’s different. It is stage 4, and there is no cure. I read somewhere that you get to choose. For me, there is no choice. I choose life. As my friends and family know I can be  pre\y bloody-minded which I figure will stand me in good stead. I will do everything I need to, to fight for my life and heal my body. I just got married, found my person in life, am truly happy for the first time. I’m not ready to go anywhere. So I see this cancer as a chronic illness that I plan on living with. I intend to live and thrive for a very long time. There’s way too much to do.


My motivation right now is to focus on the here and now, to fill my life with love and adventures (a  bit tricky with lockdown) and to create something fucking awesome as a legacy. First and foremost I  have decided to keep on making beautiful swimwear and to use my creativity and business as a  financier to my healing. I am taking an integrated approach which if you don’t know is pre\y  expensive. So I have opened pre-orders for a December delivery. This is the most sustainable way to enable production and financially sustain me for the coming months. So please help me reach 200  orders by 13 September or production will not go ahead. 


Not only will this keep Hakinakina going, so we can help keep many many women safe from those harsh rays and prevent skin cancer, it will also sustain me so I can focus on my much loftier, kick-ass mission. 


Which is to create a global space that inspires and supports women like myself with terminal illnesses to live big, joyous, thriving lives for whatever time they have. To show it can be done.  To share a true, honest yet uplifting view on living with cancer. To create a community where we can lft each other up. If we can’t cure this disease we can sure as hell support and inspire the women and men living with it. To give them the tools and inspiration to thrive. More than ever we are living more isolated lives, so we all need a community that will liO us up. Are you in?  

So. that’s where I’m at. This is where I’m going. I want to make a difference, to mine and many many others lives. So are you with me? If you are, either


1. follow me @hakinakina.active to start building this community or  


2. help me reach at least 200 pre-orders so I can continue to build my brand, finance my treatment  and be well enough to make this shit happen. hakinakina.com 


I refuse to be defined by this disease so help me create something fucking awesome as a legacy.

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