Parade brings hope to Sacha

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Sibylle Rosamond holds up a sign she made for the surprise parade for local artist Sacha Hope, Sunday, Aug. 23. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

Friends, neighbors and well-wishers gathered in a scenic location in Aguanga for an emotional parade to show support for local artist Sacha Hope, who was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The gathering, organized by Susan Thompson and Leanne Lien, was a surprise for Hope. Her husband, Trond Hildahl, arranged to have her present. She said she was completely overcome with emotion and awe for the outpouring of support.

“So I was given a big surprise this morning. Many of my local community banded together in a ‘Hugs For Sacha Parade,’” she said on her Facebook page. “They all kept it a big secret and drove around our little area honking and displaying signs of support. Tears were shed, and oh so many air hugs and waves. I have so missed these faces over the last six months of this battle with cancer. This amazing group of families and friends has been such a support to me and the love in their eyes was almost too much to handle.”

Colorful signs spread cheer during the surprise parade for local artist Sacha Hope. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo
Sacha Hope, who has an aggressive form of breast cancer, shows her fighting spirit at a parade in her honor. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo
Overcome with emotion, Sacha Hope leans into her husband Trond Hildahl at a parade in her honor. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

Hope is a local artist known for her sense of humor, smiles and “Paint and Sip” parties, where groups of students learn to paint a picture while enjoying snacks and wine.

Hope has an aggressive form of breast cancer. Diagnosed in the spring, she has had two surgeries and is currently undergoing the first of two planned courses of chemotherapy. She will finish the regimen off with radiation therapy early in 2021, she said.

“The parade was an incredible outpouring of love and support for a beautiful friend who is going through a tough time. We love Sacha! She has given so much to the community over the years and it’s important that she knows that we have her back now,” Delisa Mannix said.

Well-wishers drove to Aguanga and surrounded Hope’s car, cheering, blowing kisses and flashing colorful signs.

“It has been so hard not interacting this last six months,” Hope said. “I have missed your beautiful faces. I didn’t even know what to say. I was a blubbering mess. Thank you so much for taking the time for me. I wish I could cuddle each and every one of you.”

Friends and neighbors gather to support Sacha Hope at a parade in her honor. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo
Randy Carlson speaks encouraging words to Sacha Hope at a parade in her honor. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo
Sacha Hope wears a coat made by her friend Valerie Carlson at the parade in Hope’s honor. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

Her supporters wore masks to protect Hope’s immune system, and social distancing resulted in air hugs and kisses. Guests spoke encouraging words and made air toasts. Valerie Carlson presented Hope with a colorful coat she made especially for her.

“This has been a brutal few months,” Hildahl said. “To see someone you love – who is honestly the driving force behind your family – be scared, be vulnerable, is unnerving. And then to have the entire community line up to be a wind at her back and show their love is an amazing feeling. Thank you to all who were there in body and in spirit.”

Hope asked everyone to perform regular self-exams with a reminder that both genders can develop breast cancer. Catching the disease early improves the prognosis.

Follow Sacha Hope’s art by visiting her online gallery at http://www.facebook.com/ArtistSachaHope.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at dsieker@reedermedia.com.