Sally Obermeder's "stinky" but incredible home hair remedy.

Image: Getty.

“Shock. Deep shock because I have no family history so it wasn’t on my radar at all.”

Sally Obermeder found out she had breast cancer at 41 weeks pregnant. What is already a difficult time for many women — motherhood — suddenly became a mountain climb for Obermeder.

She survived. Spectacularly. And as a successful TV presenter, author and entrepreneur, she doesn’t take life for granted. As a National Breast Cancer Foundation ambassador and the face of Avon’s Breast Cancer Crusade this October, Obermeder spoke to The Glow about her breast cancer survival, her “stinky” budget beauty finds and the lesson her daughter has taught her.

You were diagnosed with breast cancer at 41 weeks pregnant. What was your reaction to the news?

“Shock. Deep shock because I have no family history so it wasn’t on my radar at all. I assumed that it was something that happened to older women; young women didn’t get breast cancer. I was obviously extremely shocked and there was a lot of grief attached as well because it was like I was being forced to choose between being a mother but also fighting for my life. So in the beginning I felt quite torn and quite like, there’s no good time to get cancer but that was a particularly bad time. It’s not ‘Why me?’, but I did feel a bit like ‘Why now?’. The timing was appalling but it takes a couple of months for the shock to settle in then you realise, ‘This is my life now, I just have to do it’.”

What was the experience of going through that and raising a child like?

“Well I don’t have anything to compare it against, it’s the only situation I know. The first year of being a mum is tough no matter what. I felt quite isolated that I was in a position where I couldn’t really go to mothers’ group because I felt like no one could understand, and I couldn’t relate to what everyone else was going through and you’re also being forced to make such huge decisions about your life at the same time as caring for a new baby. But you do your best.” (Post continues after gallery.)


Was it still a happy time?

“Yes and no. Yes of course when you’re holding a new baby in your arms it’s so beautiful and there’s so much love and joy and it’s so pure, but it was also a heavy time because I didn’t know if I’d survive. If I’d known I’d definitely survive it might not have been so tough, but there was a massive question mark over whether or not I’d live or die, so there was obviously that to deal with.”

Many people who’ve had cancer say others can react differently and strangely when they tell them about their disease. Did you find that?

“Yeah, I think it’s interesting. Some people are incredible; they respond almost like a call to arms, like, ‘Right, here’s what I can do’. Other people don’t know what to do and are very kind and say, ‘What can I do?’ And on the whole 90 per cent of people are amazing, but you do get people who say ridiculous things like, ‘Think of it like a flu and just shake it off’. You’ll get that, it happens. I think often people just don’t know what to say or do because they’re in shock as well. I think it’s interesting because once you’ve been in that situation and all my close girlfriends who’d never been in that situation before and now have been, we’re all in a way better for it — we know what to do and we know how to support each other and others.”

In light of this, what’s the best advice you could give someone who’s just found out their friend has cancer?

“I would say don’t avoid them, always reach out and say, ‘Listen, what can I do? What do you need?’ Sometimes it’s just the simplest things that are so helpful, they might just want you to sit and listen, to hang out. Practical things really help. If they’re someone with a family, guess what — these people still need meals and grocery shops while they’re going through this time and it’s very difficult. The minutia of life that continues despite the fact that they’re sick — just take that off their hands.”

Obermeder and Tessa James shared this happy snap during her treatment. Image: Instagram.

We love your website at The Glow — what inspired you to start that?

“When I was sick I thought, 'When I get better, what do I want to do?' That’s what happens when you’re sick, you start to evaluate your life and what is it that matters to you. I rang my sister and said, 'Let’s start this website, we’ve been talking about it for years.' It’s all about a fabulous life at an affordable price. It’s about feeling good about yourself and your life.”

You said being sick makes you evaluate your life and what you want to do when you’re better. What were the other things on that list?

“To celebrate and not postpone things you were supposed to do. For example, maybe it was the 10 year anniversary of Marcus and I, and I said we should really have a party to celebrate this and I thought, 'Actually, don’t worry, we’ll do it next year or the year after'. But you know what? That’s ridiculous. You should celebrate good stuff when it happens because when bad stuff happens you’re forced to deal with it so don’t push the good stuff out."

What are the budget beauty items you love?

“For lips I would say Avon’s Crayon, I love that in the nude colour. For hair, I would say and egg yolk and olive oil is great — it’s so cheap and so, so moisturising for your hair. You can mix around half a cup of olive or coconut oil, whisked in with one or two egg yolks — it depends, I have dry hair so I need two — it’s so moisturising, it’s a bit stinky. But just wrap it in Glad Wrap for a while and put a towel around your shoulders because it is pretty gross when egg yolk gets on your shoulders. It makes it quite soft. Make sure you wash it properly because you don’t want stinky egg hair." (Post continues after gallery.)


Your daughter Annabelle is truly adorable, a little mini-You. We always talk about the biggest lessons we teach our children, but what’s the biggest lesson she’s taught you?

"It’s very hard for me to separate my motherhood experience and cancer, but when I had her it was just very much the big picture in life. I really don’t sweat the small stuff anymore, like I say, ‘I’m not a surgeon, some things go wrong in life but as long as no one died, it doesn’t actually matter’. The other day something happened at Swiish and I said, ‘Listen guys, there’s no one on the operating table here, don’t worry, we’ll dust ourselves off and keep going'. Little things matter, but not enough to get so worked up."

You’re not only the face of Avon’s Breast Cancer Crusade this October, you’re ambassador for Avon’s Beauty With A Purpose campaign. Can you tell us a bit about that?

“I love beauty with a purpose because it’s basically about female empowerment about making sure womens’ independence comes from having their own financial situation looked after. It’s about creating jobs for women. I love that line: lipstick in one hand, but female empowerment in the other. That’s what Avon is about and I couldn’t agree more with the philosophy.”

You’re a personal trainer and pilates instructor — what’s the one bit of health advice every woman should know?

"Yes, I don’t teach anymore! It’s 70 per cent diet and 30 per cent exercise, if not a little bit more. People will often beat themselves up about not going to the gym but it’s not all about the gym. Of course exercise is so so important, but when women are focused on health and weight loss they think it’s all about the gym, but really it’s about what you’re putting into your body."

You can purchase Avon’s Luck perfume from an Avon rep or from now until November 9, 2015, and $3 from every purchase will be donated to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade.