30 Sep A chat with our sponsor Sarah Willmott from ‘Feel Better Box’Reading Time: 6 minutes
We are thrilled to announce that Chronic UTI Australia Inc. and Sarah Willmott from Feel Better Box have joined forces to tackle the growing problem of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Sarah is no stranger to UTIs. Like so many others, her experience started innocently as a teen with the occasional post-coital UTI. It wasn’t long before her UTIs turned into bouts of frequent and regular recurrent UTIs spanning several decades. When searching online for answers, she came across Chronic UTI Australia. Sarah knew instantly she wanted to involve her successful business that helps Australians feel better, to help raise much needed awareness of recurrent and chronic UTI. This year Sarah and Feel Better Box has partnered with Chronic UTI Australia as a sponsor. Read more about Sarah below.
Sarah Willmott, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hello, I am 37 and originally from South-East London in the UK. I have bounced around Australia, living in Melbourne—Sydney—and back to Melbourne for the past 12 and a half years. I have six year old and eight year old children and life has been pretty busy since they arrived!
I am a foodie who loves eating out—culinary skills do not come naturally to me. I love a glass of wine and in general am not fussy of which kind, I love them all! My favourite things to do is walk along the beach with my family and pup, going to the movies with them and then eating out. I love a good wine and dance with my friends on occasion too!
How did you learn about Chronic UTI Australia Inc. and what made you decide to become our sponsor?
I think it was early last year after I had another bought of recurring UTIs. I searched online for a support group just out of blue. The idea just popped into my head for the first time. I have wanted to be a sponsor since the minute I came across Chronic UTI Australia. I have simply spent the last 20 years suffering on my own—more so in my younger days. My family and friends are supportive of course, but I never had any resource or real support or understanding from anyone who knew what I was going through.
Can you tell us about your own UTI experience?
I started getting UTIs almost as soon as I became sexually active. Back then I never knew what was happening to me. I went from having a UTI occasionally, to having one a week. I dread to think how many antibiotics my poor body has taken. It got so bad that I generally felt like I could feel the mouth of my bladder whenever I moved. It got to the point I honestly couldn’t bare it. The pain, the constant uncomfortable feeling. Always worrying about finding a loo. Then getting caught out somewhere and having to get home through that burning urge. The cycle was endless.
There were days so dark I just wanted It all to end. I ended up in pieces at my doctors. I saw a new doctor who gave me an ‘off label’ medication that had showed some promise treating people with chronic, recurrent UTIs and he saved me. Since then, almost 13 years ago now, I still get UTIs despite my best efforts. But nothing like I did and for that I am forever grateful.
What did you learn about yourself during this time?
If I’m honest, I learnt how far the darkness and despair can creep in. It was no longer a physical issue, it was a mental one also. It was pure hopelessness. Nowhere to turn, no answers, no awareness, no proper support. UTIs are not just simply a bladder infection.
You are a busy business woman/mother/wife/daughter/sister; can you tell us more about why you started Feel Better Box?
I started Feel Better Box after the idea came to me after a particularly bad week with a terrible cold with my two children in Sydney. My husband was away on business and my family lived in Melbourne. When I recovered, I wondered what might have made me feel better during that week. I decided a care package with either remedies or items to take my mind off being unwell would have been very welcome.
I fell in love with the idea of sending care packages immediately knowing just how many people live away from friends and loved ones in Australia. That was in 2015 and since then it’s been a marathon not a sprint. I’m so grateful the idea chose me. I can work from home, around my kids and help Australia feel better.
Generosity and kindness seem to underpin your business model. Where did this come from and why is it important to you?
I feel like I am in a very unique position. I see so much pain and suffering—there is nothing that makes me happier than helping bridge the gap between friends and families in their greatest time of need. I am hopeless at separating myself from the situations and reasons people are sending the care packages. Often I add extras just because I know it will help. I suspect Feel Better Box wouldn’t have done half as well if I didn’t care. And I care so much, often sitting in tears writing out the gift cards. I see so much kindness every single day. I am incredibly lucky. I am personally surrounded by so much support and kindness. I grew up with it and I hope my kids will feel the same. Kindness is free and in my opinion its what makes the world go around.
COVID-19 has been an experience none of us ever expected. From your own personal and business perspective, what you have learnt from it?
I have learnt there is nothing stronger than the bond between people. Keeping people away from friends and loved ones is the cruellest outcome of this virus. People need people. I have never in my life been so busy. Being based in Victoria, Australia, I know only too well the continued despair of lockdown. The hardship and sadness have been painful to know. All I can do is hope that the recipient feels the love and care that is intended for them from their friends and loved ones.
What do you hope to see from your generous sponsorship of Chronic UTI Australia Inc. and what would you like to see in the future of UTIs?
I would like to see doctors more educated in regards to chronic and recurrent UTI, and ultimately more research into the understanding and reasons why so many of us are suffering. The part I would like to play is not only offering money, but I want to spread the word that there is support and resources out there for people who experience UTIs. No one should suffer this condition in silence anymore.
Is there anything else you’d like our chronic UTI community to know?
I would just like to say from the bottom of my heart, thank you. You are doing such a great job. Just knowing there is a charity there to support me and offer guidance has brought so much comfort. All the hoops you have jumped through, all the time, all the money you have spent to create this resource, I thank you. I am beyond happy I can play some small part with Chronic UTI Australia. The future is bright now that I and many others have found you.
Please support those who support us! Visit Feel Better Box to see the gorgeous care packages Sarah creates to help people everywhere feel better. Sarah is donating $2 from every purchase to Chronic UTI Australia Inc. to help with our important advocacy work.