Struggling Charity Brings Relief to Those Going through Cancer Treatment

Nikki Ferris

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Australian Bachelor fans will always remember Nikki Ferris as the goofy and hilarious “cheerleader” bachelorette vying for Dr. Matt Agnew’s heart on the 2019 season of The Bachelor.

While her funny and pun-tastic Instagram stories and appearances at events have kept her in the spotlight, there is much more to the 25-year-old than bikini pics and Instagram fame.

Behind-the-scenes, Ferris has been dealing with a significant loss. In 2017, her mother, whom she called her closest friend, sadly passed away from lung cancer.

Ferris has always been very open about her family, including the fact that her father had left when she was quite young, however, the former reality TV contestant has never let it deter her, and has now turned her personal tragedy into caring for the community.

Thus, Sharon’s Wish Incorporated was born — a grassroots charity that supplies therapy pillows to cancer patients.

When Sharon was sick, she suffered from chronic pain which included neck and pain in both her lungs. While undergoing treatment — with some lasting up to nine hours — she came across another lady who was also in the terminal phase of her cancer journey who had a therapeutic pillow given to her by The McGrath Foundation because she had breast cancer. This led to Sharon asking why no other cancer sufferers were given these types of pillows.

“She realised that for many cancer patients this would provide much comfort during an extremely difficult time,” Ferris said in an exclusive interview with TheLatch—.

“Many cancer patients often have financial hardships and may not have the financial means to afford therapy pillows. Mum and I discussed and I promised her that no matter what type of cancer you had, you would receive a therapy pillow to make your cancer journey a little more comfortable.”

While 2020 was set to be a huge year for the charity, the global coronavirus pandemic has forced Ferris to re-asses.

Here, she chats to TheLatch— about how the charity is overcoming the temporary measures in place and what’s next.

Nikki Ferris
Nikki Ferris. Supplied.

Anita Lyons: Hi Nikki! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story with us. Could you tell me a little bit about some of your major wins for Sharon’s Wish in the past year?

Nikki Ferris: Last year was an eventful one for us. Our therapy pillows for lung cancer were distributed throughout NSW to cancer patients. The largest batch of therapy pillows was distributed to Westmead hospital and was distributed to cancer patients by oncology nurses.

We were also able to run successful fundraising events at various local markets, and Ready Steady Go Kids held a fundraiser for our cause.

We were also able to create and strengthen relationships with Blacktown City Council, who donated money to help with a fundraising event, and our organisation was met with open arms and seen as a great asset to the local community.

I would like to express my deepest appreciation to everyone who volunteered their time and contributed to Sharon’s Wish Incorporated.

AL: What you are doing is incredible and admirable. Can you tell me a little about your mum and why do you love what you do?

NF: Aside from having the ability to carry on my beautiful mum’s legacy, I love helping people and even the smallest thing can make the largest difference to somebody’s day.

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito,” the Dalai Lama once said and that is how I feel.

My mum really did make a difference in this world she filled it with love, light, fun and happiness and changed so many people’s lives for the better.

She always put everybody else before herself and now she is even going to make a difference after she is no longer physically here through Sharon’s Wish Incorporated.

This is for you mum — until we meet again.

AL: What was 2020 going to mean for Sharon’s Wish?

NF: 2020 was going to be a huge year us with countless fundraising events, more therapy pillows to be distributed throughout NSW and the possible implementation of a mental health program for cancer patients and their carers.

“This is for you Mum — until we meet again.”

AL: With the sudden impact of the coronavirus, how have you and the organisation been impacted?

NF: For me, it has meant trying to work from home, not seeing family and friends or being able to visit some of our amazing cancer patients in and out of the hospital.

In turn, it has also put a halt on fundraising activities for the organisation thus affecting our financial intake for the year significantly.

Rollouts of large amounts of therapy pillows have also been postponed — we have been sending them directly to the cancer patients — and the mental health program that we were looking at starting this year has also come to a halt.

AL: What do all of these changes mean for your business in the short-term?

NF: In the short term, we are having to solely rely on public donations to be able to provide cancer patients with a therapeutic pillow for treatment and comfort at home. I had one lady message me the other day stating that “she just wanted a cuddle and when the pillow arrived it made her cry”. She was just so grateful.

I am really overwhelmed by the generosity of cancer patients themselves. Currently, a lot of our donations are from our amazing cancer warriors trying to make life a bit more comfortable for others undergoing treatment during this uncertain time.

Sharon's Wish
Sharon’s Wish. Supplied.

AL: You said you are now solely relying on donations from the public, how bad has the financial impact been?

NF: Most charities and not for profits have taken a huge hit. People are struggling financially and do not have the means to donate and then with our fundraising events being cancelled, we are not receiving the funds we would have otherwise raised.

We are currently planning for future events and fundraisers to make sure the needs of our cancer patients overall comfort are still met during and after this pandemic.

At the moment, we only have social media and strengthening community relationships via correspondence.

We are trying our best so that everybody who requires a therapy pillow can still receive one.

AL: How can we support the charity during the pandemic?

You can donate to our organisation online on our GoFundMe page.

Other than a donation, awareness is key. Spreading the word about cancer itself and the importance of making those who are undergoing treatment or in their palliative phase as comfortable as we possibly can during treatment and at home.

We focus so much on cancer research, which is amazing, but sometimes I feel like we forget to care for those whilst they are undergoing treatment.

Sharon’s Wish Incorporated therapy pillows can provide some comfort during a really crappy time but sometimes, its also just nice to know somebody cares.

On behalf of Sharon’s Wish Incorporated team, I hope that everyone is keeping safe and well during this challenging and uncertain time.

I hope that everyone remembers to tell the ones they love how much they mean to them every single day.

“We focus so much on cancer research, which is amazing, but sometimes I feel like we forget to care for those whilst they are undergoing treatment.”

Show your support for Sharon’s Wish by heading to its Facebook page or donating at the official GoFundMe account

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