April 24th 2013 – On Tuesday I stepped back into the Mammography waiting room, it was a year to the day my very first examination had taken place. The walls were still bare and distant, the plant had actually died, but remained slumped against the wall, nervous women in the familiar patterned unflattering NHS gowns sat in silence. Then I walked in. There was a young attractive woman fiddling with her gown and I smiled reassuringly at her and broke the silence with chatter.
I think exchanges, such are these have mutual benefit, I could offer her advice and support from experience and she without realising perhaps, gave me the biggest boost than my wobbly new image needed. It’s funny to think that now my hair is growing thick and fast, that I don’t immediately look like I’ve been ill. Even in the context of a hospital waiting room. That’s progress !!
I’ve been giving myself an unnecessary hard time about my physical appearance the last month of so, the more my hair grew and the less I felt comfortable in wigs, was the more I felt the loss of my real hair. Ironic that at the time of first chemo I relatively took it in my stride. There is a lot of truth in post treatment unsettledness.
However on Tuesday I had an epiphany. Maybe it was the confidence boost from this stranger, who didn’t know me or what I’d been through, or judge me.A fashion compliment from another woman, when it’s genuinely meant is worth it’s weight in gold. Maybe it was the night before at my new fencing class where no one stared at my crop or questioned me, no one would know I’d had cancer if I don’t mention it. No special treatment. Normality.
Whatever it was I suddenly realised just what I have overcome, what I have lived through, how proud of myself I deserve to feel and beating myself up, for not looking superficially as I did last year seems abusive after a heavy year of treatment. I made peace with my new look. So there is a little more of me in places, and a little less of me in other places. Realistically if I won’t tolerate anyone judging me on my superficial appearance, why was I wallowing in my own insecurities.
I rationalise that change isn’t always easy, especially when it’s forced upon you.