In the tradition of the incredible The Guilty Feminist, I'm starting this blog with a provocative statement of my own;
"I may have cancer, but.."
Being diagnosed with Breast Cancer in late November 2021 has given me the confidence to say "f**k it, why not", a lot more often and "let it be" a lot more than often. The journey has been a quick one. A mass was found during my routine mammogram on November 17th. I was diagnosed on November 24th and had a partial mastectomy on December 10th. I also found out that I will still need a full right mastectomy later in the year and then finally in early January, I was told I needed Chemotherapy due to a high chance of recurrence. The last 3 months has been a roller coaster of sucker punches.
It's been a whirlwind of emotion, tears, fears, laughter, tissues, snotty hugs, courage, good news, bad news, and news that you just have to suck up and get on with what you're being told to do. I've also been incredibly humbled by the overwhelming amount of love, kindness and help offered to my family and I. Chemo has now started, I have one under my belt. It's as awful as you might think and then it's not so awful again and you have a spell where you can exercise and laugh and write blogs like this one.
One way that I like to process information is to write it out, almost in chart form (I say almost, cause I'm not that fancy). I like seeing the facts down on paper and getting really specific with what's transpired. As I began to write, I pondered how I wanted to share this blog and I started thinking about the Guilty Feminist podcast (one of my all time faves) and how they start their podcasts.
In all Guilty Feminist podcasts, the fabulous Deborah Frances White and guests begin with the very funny "I'm a feminist but...". While I can't guarantee funny, I'm choosing to share my story because I love the Sisterhood and thought it may benefit or resonate with someone who reads this, who discovers, that even thought you may have cancer (or someone you love does), life can still happen, you can roll with the bad days and rock n roll on the good ones even more. It just so happens that today is a good one and #imafeministbut has inspired me. So here goes;
I may have cancer but..
I can still style up a storm for you
Yes sisterhood, I am still styling. Right now, I'm working solely online and there's so much goodness we can still do together. Check out my fabulous online services to see if one could be right for you!
And if you're not sure what might suit you, book in a free 15 minute chat with me to see how we can work together. Of course I have measures in place to pull back if and when I need too, but putting together an online shoppable moodboard for you to purchase from fills me with glee. Now that I have had one round of Chemo, I know what I can handle following the first week (which is shit, really shit, but then it gets bright again), and styling is my happy place and I love working with my clients, nothing can stop me doing that.
I can still have fun
I may have cancer but there is still a lot of laughter. My dear friend Kate M, who has been through Breast Cancer herself, taught me this invaluable lesson; that I can still very much enjoy this process, I can still laugh and not everything will be shit. And even though having cancer is incredibly consuming in thought and time, I am so happy that she taught me that. While I will have my moments, my down days, not all of them will be sad, bad or awful. This sentiment has really struck me as something to latch onto, because I am definitely an optimist and try to find the fun/good in any situation.
I'm not denying that this diagnosis has rocked me and knocked me for six and I seem to have a pattern of 2-3 great days, followed by one bad/sad/angry one. But the clarity and hope I felt learning from Kate has meant that I am finally seeing the light more days and frankly, some days are just bloody sensational still and I will hold onto that for as long as I can. This wee piece of content is my way of demonstrating that.
Another very valuable lesson my Oncologist has taught me is to rethink what a great day looks like and to temper my expectations on what I think I can achieve. This is an ongoing learning for me, as I like being busy, but I can already see a change in the fact that Omicron is keeping me from seeing people, so there is a slower pace already being set and all work is done on the phone or online.
I can still rock a kick ass outfit
This one is important to me and it had been been bugging me that my attitude to my clothes had been lacklustre since my diagnosis. I'm a stylist goddamn it, I should have an outfit for all occasions. I've still got up and dressed and even felt fabulous some days, but I'd become stuck in a uniform because it was easy and I wasn't bringing any flair to the fashion - I wasn't flexing my style muscle. But then chemo was looming and I thought I need the big guns for this, so I forced myself to step out of my post-cancer-diagnosis uniform - an oversized shirt and denim shorts (I now have 9 oversized shirts and they're all fabulous) - and take a more thorough tour of my wardrobe.
I had so much fun, finding new outfits and putting things together that I hadn't before. The joy I felt managed to fill my cup to brimming. I even made the hard decision to do a photoshoot with the outfits. The shoot had long been planned, but Covid got in the way, then Cancer squashed the plans some more. But this week, I felt strong enough, healed enough from my first surgery, to take the leap. It turned out great and I'm stoked to have a record of this time, and me with a full head of hair. (NB: The hair thing turned into a blog, which you can head to here - no pun intended).
(Photo taken on the day I was diagnosed)
I preach to my clients and to the Sisterhood on social media, that clothes can be your armour, your shield on a bad day and your glow up on a good day. I'm proof it really does work. My clothes gave me a glow up and my attitude followed. I had a really creative fun morning and it cemented in my mind how I wanted to to face into Chemotherapy.
For my first round of Chemo, I rocked this fab yellow dress and it truely made my day.
One thing I will be sure to change though is to take shoes I can slip out of, as my feet got really hot and my darling husband bought me some re-freezeable ice booties for Round 2. Talk about style babes :-).
I'm going to plan 6 outfits of epic proportions for each cycle of chemo. And I would love for you to join in and wear your own bit of fabulous on Chemo Tuesday's. Make sure you're following me on Instagram to follow along #imayhavecancerbut #SOSChemoDay #baddaygoodoutfit and create your own fabulous outfit and share it with me, because why not on #anygiventuesday.
Finally, I wanted to share that I am no Polly-Anna. Bad stuff happens to good people, I've experienced shit times before, but never have I ever experienced facing up to my own mortality like this and that is something extra spicy to contend with. Whether I use humour to make me (and those around me) more comfortable, or laugh in the face of cancer, I do so, not in jest or thinking it's no big deal. It is a big deal, the biggest. But since I intend to kick cancer to the curb, knowing it's been caught early and the survival rates are incredibly high when Breast Cancer is caught so early, I'm going to continue sharing when I feel the time is right, for me, and laugh when I need too. It's not all doom and gloom, there is lightness and fun to be had in hard seasons. Plus, when I am seeing so few people, to try and stay out of Omicron's way, mixing it up and having fun here on the blog or on my socials, is a great way for me to connect with people still. And that's all part of the sisterhood and this wee community is bloody fabulous.
Thanks team. Stay fabulous and wear things that make you feel extra freaking awesome, everyday and remember;
"I may have cancer, but...I will do my best to rock my style socks off."