My Name is Sarah Wisely…

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.

Carlisle Suede Over the Knee Boot Sagrada Dress

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?

Clash Tee, Salvage Bandit Cutoffs, Banana Campus Lace Up Boots, Blanca Jacket

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

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6 years ago

Sarah and Free People team!

Thank You so much for this message, this inspiration. I felt and feel so connected and touched by Sarah story.
Recently my body and inner self isn’t in the best shape and everyday comes with new struggles. Feeling little and broken, reading this..I feel that hope, that urge to don’t give, only other human being can give this energy whenever he/she is. Thank You! You gave me hope!

Thank You so much from heart to heart and soul to soul!

xoxo, Katrina

6 years ago


6 years ago

Knowing you since you were about 5 years old, I have seen first hand how incredibly strong and resilient you are. You have indeed survived years of struggling with this illness and come close to death more than I can count, but like i told you…you were put on this earth for a reason. I think that is to teach the rest of us how to TRULY enjoy LIFE. And after photographing you several times, I have experienced that first hand and have amazing images to show for it. It is my honor to know you and support everything you do.

6 years ago

God has kept you alive for a purpose. Thru Him, you can be such an inspiration to others. I pray you continue to heal and that He uses you mightily! You are a fighter and are strong. Have you read the book of John in the Bible? It shows how the battle is won and how you can direct your victory to truly have an impact. God’s blessings on you.

6 years ago

This is beautiful
Much Love to you Sarah

6 years ago

This is absolutely beautiful! The strength that comes from allowing yourself to be vulnerable so that others will be inspired is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing. Keep fighting.
*Sending you love and light *

morten from Norway
6 years ago

Stay strong!

6 years ago

You, my dear, ARE EVERYTHING. Thank you for the kind of person you are and for wanting to share your bright and beautiful spirit with us. Wishing you lots of love and happiness. XO

6 years ago

Sending love and may God bless you.please try and eat lots of garlic.a delicious snack is cherry tomatoes on toast spread olive oil and chopped up garlic on toast then cut toma toes in halfxx

6 years ago

You are so courageous and beautiful! Keep up the fight….everyday of life is worth it. God bless.

6 years ago

Hello Sarah! I wanted to share with you two alternative treatments that research concludes work. Please consider taking Beta Glucan and, as strange as it sounds, these types of Mushrooms ( Beta Glucan is well documented by Harvard and Baylor medical studies and MD Anderson has great success with mushrooms for cancer (by boosting global immunity responses). Find research for Beta Glucans at www. and at I wish you well.


6 years ago

You are an inspiration in every way … xx so moving to read your story. You are very brave.

Keep Calm and start writing

6 years ago

sending you love Sarah <3 <3 <3

Frederick Robinson
6 years ago

Stay strong Sarah, You are truly beautiful and have a strong will

6 years ago

You’re so beautiful, you’re so strong, you are such an inspiration… I’m so impressed.
Thank you SO much for sharing your story !
Sending you tones of love and positive vibes ! <3

6 years ago

Proud to have a best friend that has more lives than a cat. Meow.

6 years ago

Miss Wise

Since your problems developed over time, I will assume you are not eating what is proper for your body.

Books for a new diet:

We Want To Live; The Primal Diet by Aajonus Vonderplanitz
The Recipe for Living Without Disease by Aajonus Vonderplanitz

Web site:

Anita Coca
6 years ago

Thanks Sarah for sharing your story and the courage of your heart. Congratulations for being a strong and positive woman. Nobody should just sit and cry and expect for the worse. At least we must face it and LIVE what we have. Seeing, appreciating and recognizing what is positive what is and has been beautiful in our existence.
I wish you well and I have though if anything like that ever happen to me I would go with natural holistic remedies. spiritual peace is also a great help. A hug for you with all positive attitude and thoughts.

6 years ago

“Angels fly because they take themselves lightly” (G.K. Chesterton). You Sarah, are an angel . The world, this country needs those with your strength and grace to guide us out of our self-induced hatred and pity. I’m glad you’re here with us on our walk. Pax.

6 years ago

Indeed your are a beautiful woman. Strong, beautiful and someone I would love to spend the afternoon with.
Keep inspiring others and may your journey be filled with joy as you relish every day. God Bless

6 years ago

Thank you Sarah for being TRUE to BEAUTIFUL YOU!!
I’m so grateful that you shared a wee part of your brave journey….you’re inspiring ALL women….and that’s no small thing!!
God Bless You….and remember you’re never alone….ever!!

6 years ago

Thank you for sharing and inspiring, you are an amazing human being! God Bless!

Pat Schwab
6 years ago

Thank you for sharing Sarah’s story. What a beautiful woman, inside and out. Sarah, you keep fighting and living your life to the fullest. You are an inspiration.

6 years ago

Amazing! I saw the hair then the face then the whole you. Read and was shocked.Prayers go out to you. Miracles I so do believe, DO NOT FEEL BROKEN. You have inspired us, you must stay positive, rest and
eat, eat well. Surround yourself w/positive people. Take care.Thank You for sharing this with us.Please
continue to update us. My prayers to you always.DP

6 years ago

Wow! fabulous!