A charitable organisation is aiming to bring delicious recipes into Kiwi kitchens and raise funds for people with incurable breast cancer with a new cookbook released today.
Sweet Louise are publishing the Sweet October Cookbook online with recipes coming from breast cancer patients and people who are affected through a family member or friend.
The proceeds will go towards Sweet Louise members to support them through their incurable disease.
One of the contributors of the Sweet October Cookbook is Whangārei local Denise Lemmen.
Eighteen months ago, Lemmen went to get her regular mammogram at the doctor.
The X-ray showed a lump in her breast and one under her arm. Further scans revealed a mass on her liver. The diagnosis; metastatic, stage four cancer.
Metastatic means, cancer has spread from the primary site – in Lemmen's case, the breast – to other body parts like the bones, the brain or other soft organs.
"Stage four cancer is treatable but not curable," she explained. "It's a killer."
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer for women in New Zealand.
Nationally around 3000 men and women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
Between 20-30 per cent will go on to be diagnosed with incurable, metastatic cancer.
To treat the disease, Lemmen had a mastectomy and is currently taking medication, costing her $6000 a month.
She is living with the dread that the cancer is going to kill her one day.
As a married mother of three adult children and grandmother to one and another due this month, Lemmen has a reliable support system.
She says, however, connecting with women who battle the same disease was an important part of her journey.
After her diagnosis, Lemmen was pointed towards Sweet Louise who supports Kiwis with breast cancer.
"Through Sweet Louise, I met other women with metastatic breast cancer. We meet monthly for coffee.
"It allows us to talk freely with one another and to be with people who really understand what it's like. It's fabulous," Lemmen said.
In April, Denise attended a forum in Auckland to meet the wider Sweet Louise community of stage four cancer patients.
"The networking was the most important part," Denise said. "Without connection, it's easy to get lost in depression."
Sweet Louise's work goes beyond creating connections; members receive a $500 vouchers annually to redeem on practical support including meal delivery, home maintenance, wellness and family outings.
Lemmen has been treating herself with pedicures, haircuts and has bought $200 worth of bras.
She says with the extensive cost of her medication there wasn't much left at the end of the month, so the vouchers were more than welcome.
With their new e-book, Sweet Louise is aiming to raise $100,000 for their members.
Lemmen submitted her grandmother's lemon meringue pie recipe which has been a family classic for decades.
"There was never an occasion or family gathering without gran's lemon meringue pie," she said.
"It is comfort food that warms your heart and makes you feel loved."
Other Sweet Louise recipes range from banana chocolate chia loaf, avocado chocolate mousse, to curried pumpkin soup and potato crusted quiche.
Lemmen says a healthy diet and regular exercise have been important to her since the diagnosis.
"People often take their health for granted.
"Sometimes, it's a blessing to know you've got limited time because you make the most of it.
"I worked out what's important to me, and the rest can go to hell."
The Sweet October Cookbook is available for $31 on sweetlouise.co.nz.