Saturday, 17 October 2009

Chemo Chic Has Arrived

I pop down to the corner shop wearing a cashmere hoodie and no make-up. I pick up five copies of the Times. The owner gives me a big smile. “You look different,” he says, “what have you done?” “I’ve got no hair,” I reply. “You’ve cut your hair?” he asks. “No, it all fell out,” I answer, lifting my hoodie a fraction to show him. “Oh,” he says, “how did that happen?” “I’ve had cancer. The treatment makes your hair fall out.” I reply.

It feels odd but positive to be talking about it so casually, as if it were the weather. But it has taken a long time and a lot of blogging for me to get to the stage where I’m not ashamed to tell strangers that I’ve had cancer. One of the reasons that I started writing Chemo Chic was to try to get past a lot of the secrecy and shame that still haunts this all-too-common illness.

Back at home, I settle down with a nice cup of tea to read the Times. If I have had any qualms about sharing my situation with strangers I’d better get over it pronto. On the cover of the Weekend section there is a full-page photo of me with no hair.

If you can’t get hold of the Times, the article is also on Times Online but without Lizzie Fleetwood Hartnoll’s wonderful photographs.


Joanna Holding said...

What a great article in today's Times. I have also blogged about it. You can follow my blog at

Very brave and encouraging to others. My sister was too. Take care and get well soon, Joanna

Anonymous said...

There is substantial evidence supporting the role of vitamin D in preventing cancer and helping in recovery.

Check out:
- look at their documentation

Look at:

Search for presentations by Cedric Garland, Frank Garland & Michael Holick

Anonymous said...

Above comment is interesting - thank you. I too have read that Vitamin D and iodine supplements can help to keep breast cancer at bay. Also there is some concern regarding dairy products, which contain high levels of hormones. Lots of love, x

canalily said...

I do take a vitamin D supplement. I also have been taking a regime of other supplements that were recommended by a naturopath to keep me healthy through the chemotherapy. They include: selenium; zinc; fish oils; resveratrol; milk thistle; co-enzyme Q10 and a Japanese mushroom extract called Trammune. I have to say, I have fare well with the chemo, so maybe they have done their work. As far as dairy goes, I have decreased my intake dramatically. But life would not be worth living without a cup of tea. I stick to organic milk which I believe does not have added hormones.

Claire said...

Yes, definitely organic milk,I go with that.What a wonderful article in The Times, I only wish I had the courage to do something similar 2 years ago. My second annual mammogram was negative last week....thank god. My daughter is now 7 and I need to see her grow up. Since my hair grew back,I've kept it really short, something I would never have had the guts to do had I not had to 'start from scratch'! Love to you all out there, together we can beat this horrible disease xx

Betty Boop Sicula said...

Dear Chemo Chic

Simply wanted to say that I love your words. I'm not going to comment on which vitamins, etc., may be advisable to take or not but I do want to say, 'pleased to meet you, albeit virtually'. I straddle 2 cultures the Sicilian one as well as the British one. My grandmother and father had cancer and my baby sister is 6 years in remission from it. It's the 'family' disease, what can I tell you? In Sicily we don't even refer to it as cancer but as 'that bad illness'. I take my hat (and everything else) off to you for speaking (so fabulously) about your situation.

Keep writing.... for you, for us and for everyone. (Oh dear, I think I just sounded like Michael Jackson!!!)... Peace, love and happiness.

Betty Boop Sicula x said...

Great attitude, haven't read the article yet but someone I'm following on Twitter mentioned it... The pic on the cover of that section is lovely. x

Bold Beanies said...

Great Blog and article in the Times. I would like to draw your attention to
My reaction to my battle with cancer. I started the business just a few months ago and like myself it is going from strength to strength. I will be going on my first holiday in four years tomorrow, but would welcome the chance to discuss a Chemo Chic Bold Beanie with you when I return. Kind regards, Emilienne Rebel

canalily said...

Emilienne, I love the beanies! Hope you have a wonderful holiday.