In 3 days time, I’ll be bald. Depending on when you happen upon this post, I may already be bald. Don’t ruin the surprise, don’t click away to see what I look like, read about why.
Why is a 38yr Single Mum with Chronic Illness shaving her head?
No, not me. I’m not beating the chemo to it and facing the inevitable, I’m thankfully not the one suffering. Well, I am, but in a much different way. I don’t have cancer, my Mum, my rock, my carer, the most selfless person I know, is so desperately unwell.
My beautiful Mum was diagnosed in September 2017 with stage 4 cancer.
I had had a sneaking suspicion. More than that, I knew. Don’t ask me how, but I just knew. I guess Dr Google told me how low the chance was that it was anything else at her age after her initial chest x-ray but it still came as a massive shock. There was a lot of crying that day and many a day after that. Here we are in January 2018 and still, the days come when you know you just can’t stem the flow. It is so horrible to see one of the people that you love most in the world, suffer and know that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. I want to make her better and take the disease away but I can do neither. The idea to shave my head was born out of desperation.
Mum was initially diagnosed as having lung cancer. It had already spread to the second lung which immediately put it at stage 4. Stage 4 basically means that you can’t be cured but it doesn’t mean that you will die imminently. Some people with stage 4 lung cancer can live for years and that is what Mum had been told. Be prepared for a hard fight but don’t lose hope.
As it turns out, Mum doesn’t actually have lung cancer. They aren’t 100% sure what cancer Mum has but they know that the lung cancer is secondary. It’s likely that Mum has ovarian cancer that has spread to her lungs and now her spine.
However, I had already been researching Lung cancer. I’m that kind of person. Dr Google doesn’t scare me I feel empowered. I don’t just believe everything I read, I quantify everything and look for multiple sources to confirm what I have read.
What I read about Lung Cancer was mind blowing.
Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
Surely breast cancer is the biggest cancer killer of women? I mean, we all know to check our breasts, we know how, we know what signs and symptoms to look out for. The campaigns, the pink ribbon, they are massive and everywhere. But no. Thankfully, and wonderfully, survival rates have shot up:
Cancer Research UK
which is just fantastic news but wouldn’t you think that if lung cancer is killing more women a year than breast cancer, that we would have heard about this?
Cancer Research UK
Lung cancer comes with a stigma. This isn’t just based on my personal experience. People have less sympathy for lung cancer sufferers than any other cancer. Fact.
I can’t tell you how many people asked me if my Mum was a smoker when I told them that she had lung cancer.
Why does that matter?
Does she deserve less sympathy if she did?
Is it more tragic if she didn’t?
And it turns out that she doesn’t have lung cancer so the answer doesn’t matter anyway!
I’m a member of a lung cancer support group on facebook and one woman said that she was recently on a lung cancer ward and out of the 6 patients being treated for lung cancer, only 1 had ever smoked. Yet, I can say with confidence that all 6 at some point, or their family members, will have been asked if they had been a smoker, and not by a medical professional who needed to know the answer.
Two ladies from my parent’s village that I meet on the occasional dog walk, have never asked that question. One lady, her mother died of lung cancer, yet had never smoked. The other, her brother has just been diagnosed with lung cancer and yes, you’ve guessed it, he has never smoked a day in his life.
Ask yourself, what are your preconceptions of lung cancer?
I could go on and on about the things I have learnt, the stigma and the shocking statistics, including in research investment, but that is for another post. In this post, I just wanted to share a little bit about what I have learnt, how shocking it is and why I am shaving my head.
As much as I am nervous about shaving my head, I am curious also. I’m interested to see what will happen when I have had my head shaved. How will people look at me? Will people stare? Will I receive looks of sympathy from strangers? Crikey, it’ll be a double whammy if people see me using my crutches too!
I also want to know how I will feel. Will I feel free? Empowered? Or, will I hate my appearance?
No matter what, it’s absolutely nothing compared to what my Mum and countless millions of others have gone through and I am doing it by choice.*
I want to say a little bit about the lady who is cutting my hair – Jill Watkins Wright. I approached Jill with the simple request of “would you or one of your members of staff, be able to shave my head please?”. Jill replied that of course she would and can I come in for a chat.
Jill then offered to cut my hair for free, to open the salon in the evening and host the ‘event’. She offered to provide prosecco and canapés to entice people to come and watch and donate, at a considerable cost to her, for free. She no doubt will be paying one or two members of her staff, overtime, to be there to help.
I am and will be, forever grateful to her, her staff and her customers for the support that they have given me.
So there you go. I’m shaving my head. I’m going from being a blonde with long hair, to a possible Matt Lucas lookalike from the Shooting Stars era. I feel there is a likeness there already….
Please sponsor me and help me to make a change.
If you would like to support me, I have a Virgin Money Giving page and I would be forever grateful. Thank you.
*I know that I am very lucky to be able to choose whether to shave my head or not.
I know that some people don’t care for this. That they lost their hair and it wasn’t by choice. That they didn’t laugh their way through it with a glass of champagne in their hands. That they faced the devastating side effects of treatment and that shaving your head for charity, in some way, trivialises what they went through.
I want to first say that I’m sorry. Sorry that they went through it and sorry that they don’t care for what I am doing, but, I would ask them to please see that I am only trying to do good, in the only way I can.