Live in the present

In the lead up to October’s Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, Lynda Papesch catches up with iconic Kiwi netballer, coach, motivator and cancer survivor Marg Foster about moving forward.

Meeting Marg Foster (MNZM ) is inspirational, even more so when you hear her story and what she does now.

These days the former Silver Ferns player lives in the present, embracing each day as it comes, and that is her advice to others, especially those with the spectre of breast cancer hovering over them.

Marg knows all about that from personal experience, and has been the New Zealand Breast Cancer ambassador, helping and inspiring others going through what she went through.

Flash back to 2006, when she dreamt that she had breast cancer and visited her local doctor who sent her for a mammogram.

The dream proved a reality. “They found I had stage three breast cancer,” she recalls. “It was devastating at the time, it was show weekend in the city, and I was beside myself thinking I was going to die. Lesson: trust your gut feeling, if you are feeling something isn’t right then go and have it checked out. My dream was my saviour.”

Family and friends rallied around her. “They were my biggest support. My husband Anthony was amazing. His mum had suffered breast cancer when he was younger (aged nine), and was told she had six months to live. She lived into her 70s.

“I had the best oncologist (Bernie Fitzharris), the medical day unit at Christchurch public hospital (especially Nurse Cara) has been incredible, and the Cancer Society was awesome with its support,” she says.

Marg still has the cancer drug Herceptin every three weeks, and is now in her 15th year of treatment.

“Lesson: receive with gratitude. Family is everything. At the end of the day, they will be the ones around your deathbed. Have no regrets, and let go of things quicker to live each day in the moment.”

Her advice is to always live in the present. “This can be hard to do at times, but embrace each day. Have gratitude daily. Smile more, don’t hold grudges, have no regrets. Get on with living, and live your beautiful life to the best you can,” she says. “Get out and travel, it’s so good for the soul. Be the brilliant ‘you’ of how and what you want to be. When life presents a hurdle, just find a way to get over it. Jump, crawl under, do whatever it takes.”

It’s sound advice from a staunch survivor, who now spends much of her time helping others.

The owner of Motivationz, coaching and mentoring youth, Marg loves coaching netball around the world and helping all ages. She is the current Silver Ferns specialist coach, and is the assistant coach to the NZ Men’s team.

Marg is also inspiring other women. In 2018 she joined forces with Christine Korako to create Inspiring Me Now, a forum for women to network and build relationships with other women who share the same desire for growth, leadership, and betterment.

Her personal mantra is twofold: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, live in the present,” she says. And the final lesson from this much lauded Kiwi: “Love what you do, do what you love.”


Early detection is the best way to beat breast cancer. Small, confined tumours are easier to treat. Know your normal – get to know the normal look and feel of your breasts. Check your breasts regularly. If you notice any unusual changes, get them checked out by your doctor straight away.

If you’re 45-69, go for your free mammograms provided by BreastScreen Aotearoa every two years. BCFNZ recommends you consider a yearly mammogram between the ages of 40 and 49.

Breast cancer facts and figures:

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer for Kiwi women and the third most common cancer overall.
  • More than 3500 women (nine each day) across the country are diagnosed annually.
  • Every year in NZ, 25 men are also diagnosed.
  • More than 650 Kiwi women die annually.
  • It is the leading cause of death for NZ women under 65.
  • The 10-year survival rate if breast cancer is detected by mammogram is 95 percent.
  • The survival rate if a woman finds a lump is 85 percent.

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From the editor: 29 September 2022

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