B shaved my head this morning. Not much can beat that for a truly intimate, I see you moment. You see nothing in life is ever perfect. Your hair doesn’t fall out neatly all at once. Each chemo session ravages you a little more. Bit by bit. But it also allows you a semblance of control. Of ownership. I have huge bald spots. I would look like coco the clown on a really bad day if what still remains grew. Or something from a horror movie. Actually I’ve always hated clowns. Anyway. How strange our new normal is. Yet how beautiful. The girls wander past the bathroom. Not even pausing, just smiling. It is what it is. We do what we must. Another 21 days are nearly done, which means it’s chemo this week again. Damn time rolls around fucking fast. Feeling less vulnerable, but still prickly. Just trepidation I think at what this week holds. And sets off. And at my fragility. It slowly breaks you down. Bit by bit. Thank fuck I’m halfway. It really is all up from here. Time for some red lippy methinks.
I received a huge parcel yesterday from the breast cancer network australia. A my care kit. Included was a berlei bra with inserts to fill any gaps, a handy reference guide to cancer, how to live with cancer, what your friends need to know, what your partner needs from your friends, a diary to record every awful moment, some pink sweets. Oh did I forget to mention it was all pink. Very pink. With a floral pattern. And so meaningful. And filled with pictures of women with that look in their eyes. The look I have grown to hate. The woeful we are so sad look. I do understand how packages like this make many women feel not alone, cared for and understood. But there is no way it doesn’t also make them feel pathetic and justifiably needy. You start to be that sad person. Especially now you have unwittingly signed up for this pink club full of well meaning people who feel sorry for you. I just hate the way it is packaged. And I don’t mean the pink, although I hate that too. I mean the whimsy, the tone of voice, the feeling of weakness, the we’ll hold you up, the message of you can’t cope on your own with this. Mostly because its misleading. You have to cope on your own. You have to find your inner strength. You are so capable of doing it if you are allowed to. Without sinking into this pit of pink. Every single breast care nurse, therapist associated with breast care, breast cancer counsellor that I have encountered along the way has looked at me that same way. Head slightly tilted, pity and sadness in their eyes, as with a slightly hushed voice they ask, how are you doing? And I feed their need. I smile wanly. I don’t cuss and I don’t laugh. I get all needy, wondering how soon they’ll leave. Whilst I respect the selfless thing they do I do wonder how selfless it is really. It seems to help them by feeling they’ve helped me so I let them believe they have. But they haven’t. Or maybe they have. By making me even more resolute. To not be the person they think I am. How novel would it be if one of them anyone one of them so enterwined in the breast cancer care bullshit looked me in the eye with a glint of steely humour and said, well this fucking sucks doesn’t it? I wonder if I can send my pink package back with some suggestions where the funds could be better spent? I far preferred the other package I got from my very dear friend. My fuck cancer packet filled with goodies to take along to keep me company as I wait wait wait. And not only because it was predominantly black.
I admire women. In particular the strength they often aren’t aware they have. I admire men too, but I am in awe of women. Right now so many of my friends are going through real life changing shitty times. Weird. So many and at the same time. I do feel sad for them that they are having to suffer. But I have learnt that often that is what is required to facilitate change. To open our eyes. I am so very sad for them and for their pain. For everyone’s pain. But I felt a little bubble of excitement deep down in my tummy. I couldn’t understand why. And then I realised what it was. Excitement at the strength my friends are finding within themselves. Fuck, it is exciting. They are realising what they are worth and that they deserve better. They deserve to be treated as the wonderful fabulous vital women they are. Respect. My new rallying cry. Trust and respect. Yeeehaaaa.