Publicity

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It began with Twitter.  And a hashtag.  I flirt with Twitter.  I am not a great tweeter but I do like to dabble (@wildsidejam if you are interested).  On one such dabbling, I noticed Cancer Research were running a campaign. What did cancer mean to me right now?  Or #CancerRightNow.  So I told them.  I had just done a collage of different head looks.  I thought they might like it.  They did.  Quite a lot.

My original tweet got their attention and landed in the #CancerRightNow gallery.  Which is a bit like the Vision On Gallery.  Only without the music.  Or Tony Hart.  I then had some lovely email correspondence asking if they could further use my photo and information on other social media platforms.  Being the shy, retiring type, I hesitated for about five seconds before agreeing.  So last Monday I was the subject of Cancer Research UK’s twitter feed, resulting in 185 likes and 44 retweets.

Then on Saturday we did it all again, this time on Facebook:

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Somewhat shockingly, that has resulted in 1.4k likes, 116 comments and 70 shares to date. In under 24 hours.  Which is the closest thing to going viral I am ever likely to get.

There is a possibility that the world of Instagram may be hit by my mug shots this coming Thursday.  You have been warned.

That Cancer Research wanted to use me is rather flattering.  That so many people took time to comment, like, share or retweet is also rather lovely.  I hope it helps to raise awareness for the splendid work that Cancer Research do.  Other than that, I am not really sure what to make of my 2 minutes of fame.

Test Driving Miss Wiggy

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I have been delaying wearing my wig.  I am not entirely sure why that is.  I know it looks convincing but it really does not feel it.  Normally, I am a hair toucher.  It is one of the reasons I do not wear hair spray.  Getting my hand stuck as I go for the rake through is not a good look.  When wearing The Wig I cannot, under any circumstance fiddle with the ‘hair’.  At all.  Not even a little bit.  And this is disconcerting to say the least.

Last week I felt the time had come.  Everyone talks about wigs being hot so I chose a coolish day.  There was a breeze but not so much of one that I would be worried about hair raising flights.  I applied the slap – which has become something of confidence in cosmetic form – dressed wearing an adaptable scarf as a just in case, and stepped forth.  The result?  No comic moments.  No howls of hilarity.  No nothing really.  It was utterly ordinary.  And that was really rather nice.  It did feel odd but I soon forgot and only during hot flushes was I acutely aware of it, or when my scalp felt itchy.  Scratching while wig wearing is something that I have yet to master.

I was not so convinced that I intend wearing The Wig from now until my hair has grown back but I am convinced enough that I will wear it more than I expected.  It was delightful to pass unnoticed.  Because whichever way I dress it up.  And however much I attempt otherwise.  Having no hair means I look like a chemo patient.  Wearing a scarf means I look like a chemo patient.  Admittedly ripping The Wig off in the car because I was Just Too Hot also meant I looked like a chemo patient but it had the added thrill of causing shock and mayhem to the drivers surrounding me.

Feeling Great – Day 12

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Having gone for the shorn look yesterday I woke this morning sans headache, sans itchy scalp and feeling well.  Sorry, I will just emphasise that again.  I woke up feeling well.  As in not ill.  As in without sickness.  It is precisely 12 days since that happened.  I lay there for a moment just to take it in.  And then had to leap out of bed as the need of my bladder was becoming too pressing!

I had slept with a sleep cap on – a small stretchy cotton beanie.  Advisable, because while I have had my head shaved, I still have stubble.  And it is still going to fall out.  Wearing the beanie at least contains it.  Just as well, judging from the contents.  This morning’s bath water resembled the Captain’s shaving water – the tide mark was not pretty.  But is is so much more manageable now.

I had to go out today to collect an order from M&S so the debate about what to wear, if anything, upon my head had to be settled.  I started by applying make up.  I felt some decent lippy was in order if nothing else.  But I applied the nothing else too.  That done, I liked the effect and was very tempted to go out uncovered.  However, it was cold, and raining, and basically I chickened out.  For my first hairless trip, I decided a covering was in order.  I tried the wig.  And dismissed it.  Too hot.  And too, well, hairy.  Stray hairs kept floating over my face which was deeply irritating.  So I moved onto the scarves.  As time was moving on, I went with a bright red square scarf which I teamed with a polka dot navy & white headband simply because I knew how to tie that.

The outing was successful.  No one gawped.  No one tilted their heads at me.  No one did a double take.  I felt normal.  Which, let’s face it, does not happen every day.  I even felt confident enough to take on the Number 7 woman in Boots over their lack of parabens free cosmetics.  Bad Boots.  So, next time, no scarf?  We shall see.

Once home, I did some more experimenting.  The results:

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Hair today, Gone tomorrow!

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Today has been all about hair.  It began with hair removal.  You know, just the routine stuff.  Slapping a bit of Veet on the bikini line.  Running the razor over the legs and arm pits.  It is a routine I will not miss.  But it did feel odd.  Doing it all today.  The irony was not lost on me.

I did not plan it this way.  It just happened.  You see, today I had an appointment at the wig fitters.  And it is not every day you get to say that.  ‘What are you doing today?’, ‘Oh, nothing much, just popping along for a new syrup.’  It does not run off the tongue, does it?  Yesterday, during my pre-chemo chat, I was given a voucher for a wig to take along to a supplier.  Gone are the days of NHS Wig Woman hiding in a cupboard somewhere in the bowels of the hospital surrounded by boxes of grey hair pieces all looking much the same.  Now, I had to make an appointment and go to the specialist retailer which was by far a much more preferable experience.

Knowing this was coming, I had booked some weeks ago and arranged to take my hairdresser buddy with me.  We share much else besides the same hairdresser but it did seem appropriate.  Although the pressure was on: ‘Make sure she chooses well!’ our hairdresser charged her.  I was guessing this meant that the Donald Trump toupée was out and the 118 scouser look was a definite no no.  The look I went for in the end, was as close to my norm as possible.  I reasoned that on the days I choose to wear it, I will want to feel like me rather than striking out in a new style.  I am going to have buckets of time for new styles once it all begins to grow again.

Before making a decision, I tried on several wigs in many different styles and varying colours.  But true to normal shopping form, the first one I tried on was the one I came away with.  I have an Attract Petite in Sugared Walnut and am besides myself about it.  I have never, but never, owned anything before with petite in its description.  This is indeed a moment to savour.  I am not sure what the petite bit refers to as my head is on the enormous side.  Hats are generally a struggle, even Christmas cracker hats split immediately.  So I just cannot wear them.  Shame.

How often I shall don my syrup remains to be seen.  After only a few minutes wear, and with a layer of hair for comfort, it was still hot and itchy.  But at least I now have it as an option.  And it is not bad.  Not bad at all:

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To complete the hair raising experience day, on my return home I decided to book an appointment with HeadStrong, the Breast Cancer Care advisory service for hair loss through breast cancer treatment.  That will be happening the day before my first chemo.  I will have an hour of one to one tuition on scarf tying and hat wearing.  Excellent.  I like a hat.  It is a fair old trek from our home but the Captain is coming with me – possibly to brush up on his piratical bandana skills – and we will go out for a Last Day Before Chemo Lunch.  Sounds like a plan.

Evening the Score

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I was back at the hospital today.  It is becoming regular.  Pretty soon, people will talk.  I am already greeted by name.  Today’s treat was a trip to the Prosthetic Clinic.  I was hoping for a gloomy room in the bowels of the hospital with various false limbs propping up the corners and cupboard doors groaning under the weight of legs making a bid for freedom.  But no.  Once again I was in the All Singing All Dancing Breast Unit, for this Prosthetic Clinic was just for boobs.  No gloomy rooms, no cluttered corners, no false limbs legging it out of cupboards.  Just an excess of pink *sigh*.

I took my comfy but ugly new bra with me as instructed and without further ado stripped to the waist.  It is a funny old business.  I have never been one to shy away from flashing but this latest episode of my life has seem me strip and flash in a new and not altogether thrilling manner.  As accomplishments go, it is not one I shall be listing on my CV anytime soon.  Anyway, Ms Fitter soon had me eyed up and rootled through her neatly stacked store for one to try.  Who would have thought falsies came in so many different sizes?  As I already have my shoubsicle, I need a partial rather than full prothesis but we still had to decide between a tear drop shape or a more triangular style.  Turns out I am triangular.  Ms Fitter deftly placed a size 6 into the pocket on my bra and stood back to admire the effect.  We chatted for a while about maintenance (seriously) and imagine my delight when I discovered that for a week’s holiday, I can manage with just the one ‘ordinary’ one and that a swimming prosthesis will not be necessary.  Did you even know swimming protheses even existed?  I had hoped they came with their own water wings and bikinis but apparently not.

During the time it took for us to have our chat, my size 6 oh-for-goodness-sake-I-can’t-keep-calling-it-a-prothesis shrank.  For a moment I thought I had acquired one with a particularly shy nature, but it seems this happens.  They settle in.  Well, this one appeared to more than settle in.  It had put on its slippers, curled up in an arm chair and was merrily dunking custard creams into its tea.  This would not do.  Size 6 was whipped out, sternly reprimanded and shut away in its box.  Ms Fitter decided a size 8 was in order.  More furtling followed but eventually everyone was happy.  So happy am I that the scarf I was wearing, for I have become Scarf Woman, was consigned to the carrier bag and I went home proudly displaying my newly perky rack for all to admire.  Should I ever become bored of wearing Size 8 in the usual manner, it could double up as a hat.  For it perfectly fits my head.  The nipple may take some explanation but otherwise I think I could rock that look.

Stepping out

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Yesterday I took to the streets.  Alone.  It was time.  With a few notable exceptions, I have been imprisoned within the four walls of my house for three weeks.  Actually, I am lying.  One week in hospital, two at home.  Please stand corrected.  Whatevs, it has been tedious at times.  Last week I decided that by Monday I would be well enough to walk round to see a friend.  On.  My.  Own.

My excitement was already beginning to mount as I sorted out my clothes.  Much thought went into which scarf I would be wearing.  I settled on the white with red poppies.  I even spurned my post op chic leggings and opted for a skirt.  Obviously still with elasticated waist.  Having crossed into comfort wear you cannot expect me to leap back to normal attire in one bound.

When the time came, I sorted my pockets – handbag carrying not yet a comfy option – locked the front door, and set forth.  It was barely a quarter of a mile, but still, I went.  Alone.  Sweet freedom was mine!

And on arriving at my friend’s, I did not collapse, panting in a heap on her hall carpet.  I sat in her living room, sipping my mint tea, making polite conversation like the lay-dee I am.  And then I spotted my fashion faux pas.  My tights.  In my dim witted state I had donned a pair of navy blues.  Black boots, black skirt, navy tights.  I really should not be let out alone.

Superheroes

Anxiety Girl

Since the Lopping and Trimming took place I have had to adjust my wardrobe slightly.  I knew that I would need to acquire a few Button Through garments and had a splendid time with Chummy purchasing some appropriate items during our Up Yours Cancer Lunch.  These have been tremendously successful and I have added to the Button Through options with Step Into and Pull Up items which have also worked.  Of course, while all this is marvellous for my limited arm mobility and the thin layers are great for the hot flushes, none of it is particular good camouflage for the uneven nature of my one and a half bosoms.  And so I have become Scarf Woman.  Sadly unable to leap buildings in a single bound I do not seem to have acquired any super powers but a scarf does distract admirably.  And so I am embracing them.

I have even joked with several of you that Scarf Woman is my new Superhero status.  Unfortunately, this is not true.  Anxiety Girl really is more like it.  You see, Thursday’s appointment is looming large.  It is getting increasingly difficult to pretend that it is not happening.  Thursday is the day the results from my surgery will be shared with me.  Knowing that there are no cancer cells in my lymph nodes is massive and not to be underestimated.  But that does not mean I am totally in the clear.  On Thursday I find out what the rest of this year holds.  It is hard not to be anxious about it.

And so I find myself back in Psalms.  Actually I have never really left them.  This time it is Psalm 25 as sung by Graham Kendrick and Matt Redman.