This time last year the house was full of flowers and cards. In the preceding four weeks a large chunk of my abdominal contents had made a great escape, courtesy of the surgeons at the ERI, I had been hit with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, I had cut my hair, chosen a wig and had my first chemotherapy session. It had been an emotional few weeks for the whole family, thrown into the early stages of a ride towards unknown territory. Looking back on it now, from the distance of the first anniversary, it seems like a bad dream. Just to remind me that it was all real, though, this orchid that I was given last autumn has come back into glorious flower. So I think it’s time for me to look back over my year – and then forget about it.
I’m getting good at this. Wearing my wig, that is. I had a meeting to go to today so wore my wig instead of my much more comfortable buff. I detoured on the way home to buy Christmas cards and have a coffee, and bumped into a couple I knew in the queue.
“Oh you’ve changed your hair style! It looks really nice!”
“Thank you”, smiling sweetly.
“Is it easy to look after?”
“Oh yes, very easy” trying not to smirk.
“It must be great for swimming.”
Aloud: “Definitely easy for swimming”. (Thinks: I could just take it off and stuff it in a bag. If I could go swimming, of course.)
And I managed all this with a straight face.
“Mum! What’s that you’re wearing?” 😯 I can’t quite replicate the tone of total repulsion.
“A scarf, my dearest, darling, younger son. It’s catching the bits of hair that are falling out.”
“Well could you please not wear it when you drop me at football tonight. In fact, you could just stay in the car.”
I’ve discovered a wonderful support group of friends. You know deep down they’re there all the time and it really doesn’t take much of a crisis for them all to rally round. G and I sat and chatted not long after the cancer was confirmed and decided my hair had to go. Not completely – its demise would come in its own time, maybe three weeks into the chemo – but as its days were definitely numbered, it would be easiest to start with it short. Smaller handfuls when it goes, you see. And maybe less of a shock. So the girls came round with the tools of the trade and cut my hair by good humoured committee. I now have a stylish new look which shows off all my earrings; it’s just a shame it’s not going to last too long.