I realise that with so much going on at the moment, what with the return to work after a two year hiatus, my sessions with the revolutionary new radiotherapy treatment that is called Cyberknife, and last but definitely not least, the coming-of-age of my no longer baby boy's second birthday, I've been neglecting that oh-so-important aspect of myself, that being the ever changing appearance of my hair.
My hair. Could there be less of a reason to write a cancer blog ? While I currently still grapple with the next phase of my new normal which involves taking a mammoth supply of 17 tablets a day (yep, you heard me. 17 !), I realise that perhaps moments spent wondering about the condition of my follicles might not be the most enlightened way to spend my time. I have to shamelessly admit that I take great pleasure in getting caught out on tube, train or bus at different times of the day with said pills in hand. Nothing delights me more than to watch my fellow previously-stony-faced fellow commuters watch in amazement as I guzzle down 5 hefty tablets in quick-fire succession. I can't imagine what they think they might be for. Is it cold turkey, a heroin substitute or just a remedy for a mild form of heartburn ? I find it wholly entertaining just observing their confused expressions.
But as you know, I returned back to work recently and as we all know, human beings are very visual creatures. Especially the females among us. No matter that I've returned back to work after having had my cleavage split into two, no matter that I've spent the last year trying to recover from a cocktail of poisons, no matter that I'm still in treatment. What is the main thing that folk focus on ? My hair, dear reader. My hair. I thought that I might have at least been thrown that often overused phrase that awaits the cancer patient on her sojourn back to the real world; the 'My, don't you look well !' utterance. But the reality was, I didn't. I have dark shadows under my eyes, still nearly there eyebrows and hands that look as though they had spent the last month washing crude oil off North Sea seagulls. But being the sweeties that they are, they overlooked these minor details. So after a mixture of welcome back greetings ranging from barely there hellos (from peeps who probably felt too uncomfortable to say little else) to humungus full-on bear hugs (which I found soooo sweet that I felt myself close to tears on way too many occasions), I can proudly report that on no fewer than three occasions, I received not just great compliments about my new haircut, but repeated ones (and boy, there is nothing like a compliment uttered not once, but twice by the same person for you to realise that for just once in your life, you might have got one thing right that day). First up was my editor who practically exclaimed when she saw me to tell me how much she was loving the new hairstyle. A great start considering that I was only in for that morning (something called being on a phased return) and was feeling very conscious about being the new 'part-timer' in the office. The next, and I consider this to be my biggest coup of all - the resident fashion stylist greets me with a massive hug and tells me how much she's loving that silver streak out front. When I tell her that none of it was intentional, she just keeps grinning while still admiring my hair - the way fashion folk do when they see something that they think is 'on trend' and are just happy to be the first ones to witness it. And then of course there's the writer who I've renamed the 'cancer journalist', since in the time that I've been away, every feature that I've read about cancer since my diagnosis has been penned by him. He loves my hair too. Grreat ! Perhaps not so great that I've spent in excess of £100 on wigs trying to look like my former self. But it seems as if my former self was so off-trend I'm surprised I didn't get marched home with my P45 in hand.
So there you have it. A new looking me sans afro has emerged post-chemo to eclipse the old me. The greatest thing about being back, bar the reassuringly formulaic canteen grub, is not the frothy cappuccinos (even though I missed them terribly while I was away) but the frothy chat. And there's nothing like working on a glossy magazine to remind you that beyond the diagnosis of cancer, beyond the chemo, there are a whole lot of folk out there who take the business of looking good very seriously indeed. And at times like this, I absolutely love them for it.