For a Havelock North woman who's lived with breast cancer for 20 years, charities like Sweet Louise are a "gift".
Margaret Dobson was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 while living in Palmerston North.
Aged 43, she had two young children – one aged 12 and another just 10.
An unusual line running under one side of her breast prompted her to make an appointment with her local GP, and while a mammogram couldn't pick anything up, an ultrasound found a tumour.
Of her 29 lymph nodes, 26 had cancer seedlings.
"Things didn't look too good for me at that time," she said.
What followed was a full mastectomy to remove her right breast, and the initial treatments of "lots of chemotherapy and lots of radiation".
Then in 2012 it made a reappearance, with Dobson finding herself unable to move while out on a walk with her husband.
Initially diagnosed with pneumonia and osteoporosis, she asked for a second opinion and Stage 4 or advanced cancer was later confirmed.
"That's very common for women in my kind of situation," she said.
"One of the things that's terribly for important for women like myself, if you are not comfortable […] with the diagnosis you are getting you must ask for a second opinion or find an advocate to support you.
"It's about trust."
While it was a "difficult return", she soon found support in Sweet Louise after a referral from her oncologist.
Sweet Louise was started by Scott Perkins in 2005 and named for his wife Louise who passed away in 2004 after living for 10 years with incurable breast cancer.
It now supports more than 745 New Zealanders with incurable breast cancer and their families.
"I was highly hesitant [to join] because if you admit you've got something then you have to live with it," Dobson said.
It took a couple of years for her to finally sink her teeth into the programme.
She said it was a really good way for people to share information and gain support in an "unintrusive" way.
"The biggest thing we want is control.
"They're never in your space or to take over your life. Just someone to be there walking beside you in your life.
"Most people don't want to be captured. Most of the women I know are wanting to live the best life they can because we have stage 4 breast cancer - it's incurable."
Help from the group included getting advice about travel insurance, recommendations for different specialists like masseuses or podiatrists who understood the side effects of cancer treatment, and more recently advice about moving to a new medication during Covid-19.
"That was a very helpful short-term relationship to give me more confidence about where I was headed next."
Breast cancer had also taken its toll on her family, another thing which Sweet Louise had helped her with.
"There's support there for you.
"We have good days, and bad days, and bloody hard days.
"But we still manage to wrap some humour in there and support each other."
She felt "very very lucky" to still be here and was focused on supporting other women and families living with breast cancer.
* This month marks Breast Cancer Awareness as well as Sweet October, a chance for New Zealanders to host a tea party to raise funds for Sweet Louise.
Suzelle Lingerie in Hastings will be hosting a high tea evening on October 30, which will include bubbles and nibbles.
To confirm attendance, call Coralie White on 06 878 9592.