“They tell me I’m terminally ill at 22 years old…but I like to prove people wrong.” -- Sarah Wisely
Sarah Wisely is nothing short of an inspiration. Powered by an innate desire to teach, share and empower, she emailed the Free People team in hopes of sharing her life story with the Free People community. Sarah embodies the essence of who we are at Free People – creative, confident, smart, pushing the limits – and we’re very proud to call her our friend. Her story moved us all so deeply that we invited Sarah to visit our Navy Yard headquarters in Philadelphia.
Last spring, Sarah was septic for the 22nd time in three years, with multiple infections that caused her lungs to rapidly shut down. Sepsis is an infection that permeates the blood and spreads to your organs, causing them to shut down and essentially fail. The infections that spread throughout her entire body also made their way to her heart, placing Sarah in a state of severe congestive heart failure. Having stared death in the face numerous times, this only motivated — and continues to push — Sarah to fight even harder and live the best life she possibly can.
“I always revisit the time when one of my favorite doctors walked into the room, sat by my bed, and suggested that I consider hospice,” said Sarah. Hospice is essentially a place where doctors make you comfortable in preparation to pass on. Her doctor knew she’d been fighting for a long time and wondered if she may be sick of fighting. Her doctor also explained that she wasn’t sure if Sarah would recover, and that she’d be battling the result of being severely septic lifelong. Sarah looked her in the eyes while she was holding her hand and said “I’m not done here yet, let me fight, I will win.”
This illness, along with the many surgeries Sarah has had to overcome, has left permanent scars all over her body. “…But I know that doesn’t make me any less beautiful. I know I can use everything I’ve been through as fuel to help myself and all women alike be the best they can be and embrace who they are. What’s the point of going through struggles if you don’t turn them around into something good, something positive?” she said.
Her mission has become using her struggles to help other people, to inspire and help women feel beautiful in their own skin. “If I can feel beautiful in my own skin, why shouldn’t everyone else? My scars signify the life I am living today and for which I have fought so very hard. They are my battle wounds. My scars are my ups and my downs, my strengths and my weaknesses. And I’m willing to bare them all. They remind me to fight every day, and that is just the message that every woman needs to see, what the fashion industry could get a little taste of. Every moment of my life, I’ve lived for this very reason.”
We hope Sarah’s story inspires you. Feel free to share your comments and support on the Free People blog.