They tell me I’m terminally ill at 22 years old…but I like to prove people wrong.
Sarah Wisely is nothing short of an inspiration. Powered by an innate desire to teach, share and empower, she emailed our home office team in hopes of sharing her life story with our community. It is a story that moved us all so deeply that we were immediately obligated to host a visit and subsequent photo shoot in the Navy Yard here in Philadelphia. Sarah embodies the very essence of who we are at Free People, and we’re very proud to call her our friend.
Last spring I was septic for the 22nd time in three years, with multiple infections causing my lungs to rapidly shut down. Sepsis is an infection that permeates the blood and spreads to your organs, causing them to shut down and basically fail. The infections that spread throughout my entire body also made their way to my heart, placing me in a state of severe congestive heart failure. Having stared death in the face numerous times, this only motivated — and continues to push — me to fight even harder and live the best life I possibly can, and more.
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. Hospice is essentially a place where doctors make you comfortable in preparation to pass on. She knew I’d been fighting for a long time and was curious if I was sick of fighting, if I wanted to give up and let my infections take over my body so I could finally be at peace. She also explained that she wasn’t sure if I’d recover, and that I’d be battling the result of being severely septic life long. I looked her in the eyes while she was holding my hand and said “I’m not done here yet, let me fight, I will win.” I fought the 22nd toughest battle of my life and fought hard every day to overcome what has been thrown at me.
Long story short, this illness, along with the many surgeries I’ve had to knock it down, has left permanent scars all over my 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?
My mission has become to utilize my 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.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, Sarah. x0
Lead image: Embellished Band Jacket