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. http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/article6876701.ece