The Girl Power Cancer

April 24, 2017

I'm glad that of all of cancers, I was selected to have ovarian cancer.

Of course, I'm not over the moon I have cancer at all.

 

I'm not happy that ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women.

 

It certainly isn't that each year, over 7,000 women in the UK will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  

 

And it's definitely not because more than half those women will die from it.

 

 

No, it's the fact that ovarian cancer, along with a handful of other (gynaecological) cancers, affects only WOMEN! That's something to which not even breast cancer can claim (yes, men can have breast cancer too!)

As a result, I have been fortunate enough in my short journey to have met some inspirational women.  And because we are women, the amount of solidarity and support has been incredible and often, somewhat humbling.

Now I don't claim to be a feminist, in fact I admit that I have always enjoyed being "female" and considered a member of the "fairer" sex. I have revelled in playing the part of a woman dependent on a man to do the "blue jobs" whilst I happily carry out the "pink jobs" (despite the fact I am very capable of doing most blue jobs). I like the chivalry of men opening the door for me and pulling out a chair for me to sit on. I have never yearned of reaching the dizzy heights of top management and battling it out in the boardroom. No, I have been content with my place in a male-dominated world and I make no apologies to any feminists who may choose to stop reading now!

That said, I hugely admire those women who fight tirelessly for sexual equality, with their strong conviction and powerful persuasion. It is this strength and power which I have encountered among  ovarian cancer warriors.

I wish we were connected by having bought the same pair of shoes or going to the same hairdresser but of course, it is the fact that we all have ovarian cancer. However, that is the only common ground - everyone's story is different to mine and unique to them:

The woman who was cancer free for 10 years before a recurrence...

The lady whose cancer was inoperable and is treatable but incurable...

The girl who has had two lots of surgery, four rounds of chemo and has just started on PARP inhibitors as she is also BRCA1...


Recently, I had an incredibly uplifting and enriching lunch with a group of three women I now dub my fellow ovarian cancer princesses. Anyone looking at our group would have no idea of our plight and of what we are having to deal with on a daily basis, because our battle scars are hidden. In addition, we have our own hair, we smile, we look good and, in a cruel twist of fate, we all look healthy.

This is our public face...

I have not met many women who have fallen apart as a result of their diagnosis. Like me, they accept this is the shitty hand they have been dealt and just have to manage the situation, because that's what we women do. Of course there are tears but if there is crying to be done, we do it away from other people.

That is our private face...

I am learning so much from the women I am meeting - at events organised by ovarian cancer charities, through my blog or via social media. They just seem to know exactly the right thing to say and when to say it, positive, often amusing, words of support. Here is a selection of my favourites:

"I wish they'd find a magic bullet for this damn thing"

"For me it has been easier in a way as I knew from day one it was incurable and I have always maintained that for me quality (of life) is better than quantity"

"You think you have cracked it and (then) it comes and taps you on the shoulder"

"This raggedy disease and treatment and insecure future can spin your soul inside out - turn you into a contentious old bastard"

"Your twitter bio is #lifegoals. I'm inspired"

"Another sunrise and another chance to kick arse"

"Life is too short not to wear your best knickers everyday and it's too short to save your best perfume for best - wear it now - knickers on the outside and smelling like a Chanel launch weekend in Paris, that's me!"

"I was so touched and inspired by your words. I get a lot of courage and strength from meeting other women who are on journeys like mine"


So whilst having cancer is quite frankly shit, the whole experience is being made much more bearable thanks to girl power.

The final words are courtesy of a woman who I admire, a Taurean like me who also had cancer, the beautiful and enigmatic Audrey Hepburn:

“The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present - and I don't want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future."

 

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