This was a nomination letter that was written by Ces Newton for the Kiwi Bank Local Hero Awards
Amber Arkell was 26 years old, had the man of her dreams, the job of her dreams, and she was on the way up.
Confident, smart and pretty. 

The world at her feet right?

Amber Arkell was 26 years old when she was diagnosed with stage 1, grade 2 breast cancer. Only a few weeks later, following a partial mastectomy, the tumour had gone from a Grade 2 to a Grade 3, and was also Her2 positive.

This meant six rounds of chemotherapy, followed by continuing Heceptin for the Her2 positive and a full calendar year of treatment ahead of Amber.

But she decided she wasn’t going to take this lying down. No way.

Amber Arkell threw a “Shave my Head” party for her family and friends, so she could shave off her own hair before cancer took it from her.  Those at the party took turns at cutting and shaving the hair.

Amber’s partner Kieran taking his turn at the “Shave my head” party.

Amber Arkell went through IVF, to collect and save her “good eggs” before her body became poisoned by chemotherapy.
Amber was forced to quit her job to focus on her treatment and on getting well.

All of this was enough to make even the toughest of us weep and wonder what Amber had done to deserve this terrible situation at just 26 years of age.

Amber Arkell decided she didn’t want to wallow in self-pity at her horrific situation, but more that she wanted to help educate and walk beside other women – of all ages – to try and prevent just one more woman having to go through what she was.

Amber started up a facebook blog – “When things went tits up” to document her journey – warts (or boobs) and all.  This was not self-serving. This was done wholly for other people. She is one of the most selfless and remarkable people I have had the pleasure of knowing.
This page now has more than 3500 followers from around the world.

Amber’s story went around the world in the press – from Stuff, the NZ Herald, 3News (now Newshub), Next magazine and the Woman’s Day to The Daily Mail in London and The Huffington Post in the US.

Amber has taken us on a journey of boobs, chemo, surgery, heartbreak, positivity and despair.  She hasn’t hidden anything from us. She cried her way through an online video she posted to let us know she made the desperate decision to give up her marketing manager job - which she loved - to focus on her treatment, and on getting well.  And we cried with her.
After leaving her job, she then moved to Christchurch, and within a week of getting there, and knowing no one, Amber was organising a successful Pink Ribbon breakfast.

Amber had a “boob cake” made for her.  Of course!! What else do you do when you are diagnosed with breast cancer at age 26, right?!

Amber dressed up as Wonder Woman for her final chemo session in June. As you do, when you’re someone like Amber.

Amber Arkell has devoted herself to making sure Kiwi women – particularly young Kiwi women – “check their boobies” (her words).

On the 8th of every month, Amber reminds us all to perform “boob checks”.  She posts helpful tips and pictures, to encourage even the most reluctant of us (and I will admit I was one of them!).  Why the 8th of the month? Because the number 8 – sideways – looks just like a couple of boobies, Amber decided!

August 8 · 
8th of August everyone! You know what that means. It's my monthly reminder to you to encourage your self examination.
I appreciate those of you who have told me that you get value from this reminder. Young ladies, we should be doing this monthly from the age of 20.
Be confident in knowing your body. Know your normal and if anything changes get it looked at. Early detection is the priority.

Amber is now an Ambassador for Koru Care in Christchurch – Koru Care is a charitable trust that provides special experiences for New Zealand children with serious and ongoing medical conditions.

She willingly gives her time and effort for no reward  - and in the middle of her own treatment – to help others.
Amber Arkell is a bright shining young leader, not just for young people, but for all people. Her positivity and sincerity touches people across all age groups, genders and nationalities – and not just women. Amber’s partner Kieran actually discovered the lump in her breast while they were “spooning”.  Amber hasn’t been afraid to say this, and to encourage men to be part of the “check your boobies” process with their partners.
Many New Zealand women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year and bravely fight an incredible fight. 
Not many of them could do for others what Amber Arkell has done.

I was fortunate enough to coach Amber at netball when she was still at secondary school in the Wairarapa. She wasn’t the best player in the team, but she had by far and away the best attitude. So I am not surprised to see her triumph over adversity, as she is doing now.

Women (and men) around the New Zealand, and around the world, are now more confident and more engaged in checking themselves for signs of breast abnormality.  This is because of Amber’s selfless quest in educating and demystifying what to do and how to do it.

There are people who don’t personally know Amber that continue to comment on her facebook blog, to thank her for what she is doing (see examples below)

Your courage and generosity at sharing your journey is amazing. I am glad it has helped you get through this, but you have given so much to so many of us. The way you will answer questions and your no-nonsence approach has benefited so many people. A BIG thank you for this page. You are in my prayers and I know in many other people's as well. Its good your gift is being acknowedged in this article and in other places as well. :-)
Like · Reply · 1 · September 12 at 7:16pm · Edited

 I know I have said this so many times over the last 10 months and again u are an amazing young lady, so open with yr journey and I am sure you have helped if not saved so many on a similar journey and educated people to react on a lump or a reminder to check each month. You and Keiran have both been to hell and back but all that time thinking and helping others. I wish you so much love success and happiness for yr future thank you xxxx  💜 💜
Like · Reply · 1 · August 29 at 8:05pm

I don't even know you but you are so brave to keep posting to your page even when you are going through so much hell. Hope you can feel the aroha that surrounds you, not only from your awesome family and friends but also from people like me that are following your blog. You've got this !!
Like · Reply · 6 · August 7 at 6:50pm

keep up the fantastic attitude - it is spurring me on in my roller coaster of unjoyful rides. i will have my operation at the end of the year so im swallowing up everything you post, and yes i would be keen to see pictures of drains (if thats what you meant you are going to post). I am scared about my op even though its a long way off yet. Lots of Love xxx
Like · Reply · 1 · August 4 at 6:09pm

You are amazing....and so young to be on this journey. You give me strength for my surgery in 2 weeks.
Like · Reply · August 4 at 7:38pm

Thank you Amber for allowing us all to follow your journey! My family and I have been following and keep you in our prayers! You are an inspiration!
Like · Reply · 1 · August 2 at 9:30pm

What a brave and beautiful young lady Your journey is such a tough one but through your willingness to show us all that a positive attitude and a strong mind set we can all feel hopeful with all they can do for us these days (I myself am a survivor) May your future be as bright as your gorgeous smile xox
Like · Reply · August 2 at 6:57pm

Good on ya hope all going good I don't know how I got on to following you but somethings have been in a way uncomfortable to see but you see how your dealing with it n makes it in a way easier to understand but not fully unterstanding what you going through but I wish you all the best and I am seeing a different side of life through through your story
Like · Reply · 1 · July 29 at 11:14pm

Christ you ride this road so truly. What a shit ride it is for someone your age, you and your partner should be so proud of how well you do. Thank you for sharing so raw. X
Like · Reply · 2 · July 21 at 8:43pm

Oh I don't know the answer. Its so unfair. What I so admire Amber is your honesty. Warts and all. What you write is how all of us feel at times without cancer living with us. But you have the added burden of fighting this. Staying authentic is a very powerful attribute and you have it. It is your mast. Let's party hard and we can all meet each other and dress up and you'll be the Star!!!! Everyone can descend on our place, a gorgeous 7 acre 'lifestyle block' called... honestly, I am for real, called Amberfields. Have a happy day tomorrow 😗 😃 😉 💜 and do a little jig  💃
Like · Reply · 2 · July 15 at 9:14pm

And many more comments, these are just a few examples.

Amber Arkell has recently had a nipple-sparing mastectomy and breast reconstruction. She has a new job.  She has brought new bras. She is back at Zumba.

And she delights in posting pictures to the Facebook page of her hair regrowth.

I bet now Cancer feels like it picked the wrong person when it picked Amber Arkell.

She is a true leader of the future and I feel like our country is in great hands with young people like her shining through such adversity. Her commitment to helping and informing others throughout her time of illness and uncertainty has been phenomenal.

Amber’s contribution to society and her ability to remain honest and engaging throughout such a difficult time in her young life makes her an outstanding young person and worthy of recognition.

Her guidance, support and encouragement of those who follow her is both gentle and motivational – a perfect combination for such a difficult subject.

Amber continues to educate herself and pass her knowledge on to the community in a manner that no doctor or specialist could do.  She hopes to become an official Cancer Society volunteer and support newly diagnosed women through those first horrible weeks and months. And all this as she fights her own battle with breast cancer.

When I talked with Amber about this nomination, she wanted to make it clear that one of the best parts of her journey so far is that the blog has brought together women from all over the world who have faced cancer.  Some of these women are now starting to share their story on Amber’s page. And more are lining up to do the same, leaving them feeling empowered and brave.

The fact that every women’s experience is so different is something Amber wanted to highlight – she feels happy that women have connected through her page and can gain strength and support from each other.
There can be no value put on what Amber is doing – it is invaluable. 

I believe she deserves recognition for her bravery, inspiration and continued selflessness. Thank you for considering my nomination for Amber.