Since starting this blog in September its readership has grown and grown drawing attention from first local and then national press with Cosmopolitan this month and an article in Reveal still to come. My story has been hailed as brave and inspiring but I'd like to take a moment to disagree; you see the difference with my story is simple: It is published.
I am far from alone in this and I have had many people contact me in the last seven months to tell me how they or someone they know has cancer or is also sick in some way. I am not alone, you are not alone. Far from it.
Illness can be hugely isolating because it has become a awkward and unaccepted condition in a society which idolises perfection. You only have to watch the Dove Evolution Video to see the extent to which the social consciousness despises the odd blemish and bad hair day so there is litte chance for anyone truly ill. This makes it extremely difficult for the many of us to go out with the attitude of "this is me and I'm ok with it" and that includes me. I have had a very difficult time adjusting to my ever changing routines, restrictions and most of all looks, but I am getting there. Every time I panic and wish it different I remember that life is short (even 80 years is short if you think about it) and I don't want to waste any of it!
With this attitude I have fought my impulses and striven to keep life as normal as possible. Yesterday I went to the Costa in our local town with my husband just to enjoy a vanilla latte - no big deal right? Except I didn't wear anything on my now pretty much bald head - oh the horror!! To be fair I got a couple of double takes but as I felt more natural without the restriction of a wig or bandana on my head, I acted natural. So there I am enjoying coffee and my husband and I are chatting when we are approached by an elderly lady who leans over me conspiratorially and tells me that she had cancer five years ago and now she is clear. She continues with how brave I am to come out without a head covering... well yes I suppose only she unwittingly is doing exactly what stops people from leaving the house without hiding - drawing everyones attention to it!!
So I suppose if I am doing anything different it is not hiding, I don't really think of this as brave, it is just who I am and who I have always been. When I was younger I had a bad fall from a horse whilst jumping and frightened myself so that I didn't really jump for the following year, until someone put up a 3'3" fence and instead of saying I couldn't do it I circled to take an approach. Diane the lady also riding turned and said " you can't jump that.." and my brain automatically responded with "oh yes I f***ing can!!" And I did; Fizzy (the pony) and I flew over it. I hate being told no; ask anyone who knows me!
To this end I won't hide because it might make someone else awkward, that is their problem not mine. I hope in some small way to show that people with cancer or other afflictions don't have to hide away or be ashamed. I didn't ask for this and chances are neither did they. I have said before I want to fight back and this is one way of doing it - another is the sponsored rides, sky dive and the Race for Life events I am taking part in over the next couple of months - chemo or not! Imagine It are in fact collecting a large team to show their support and we even have our own t-shirts. You can join to by signing up locally or coming with us to the Norwich run.
Team Imagine It can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/259414884137071/ or from the website where t-shirts will be available to order soon.
Oh just one more thing, I faced another fear this week and posed for the camera in my shirt. See for yourself...