I'm not really one for support groups. I was inundated with offers at the very start, official ones, unofficial ones, telephone dates with fellow cancer patients or friend of friend of mums friend survivors. I could think of nothing worse at the time, much to my family and DadJokes discomfort. They even had to call Macmillan for me a few times to check my ahem, downstairs movements were normal, since I couldn't even face doing that. I didn't want to be part of this 'club' you see, and if I stayed under the duvet and let someone else do the phone-talking/pamphlet reading then I could just about pretend life as I knew it had not given way to abject terror. Always with the drama, me.
After a few months, some gentle blogging and a fantastically supportive response I realised I had created my own group therapy. Which worked perfectly for me since I had an important job (answering lots of emails and reassuring young girls that their various dubious lumps were not likely cancer, but check with GP etc etc.), I could remain at home, and didn't have to do the 'Right on Sister!' thing that I imagined all support groups to revolve around.
What a wally I was. I've just come home from a Look Good...Feel Better workshop. It only took me 8 Months to get around to it (I make that sound like laziness, rather than annoyingly timely hospital admissions), but even though it was out of my control, I do wish I'd done it earlier.
I was there in my beauty editor/cancer-ravaged-looks capacity, so although I was technically 'helping out', it was a lovely learn for me too. Not least when I took my wig off to show my regrowth, and then got a round of applause when I left it off.
For those who don't know, one of these workshops involves a room full of fellow cancer-ravaged-looks ladies, a few volunteer beauty experts, lots of products and mirrors and biscuits and tea. Two hours of guided beautifying, giggling (occasional hysteria in fact), tea and biscuits later and all the ladies leave looking so lovely it's a crime that it's not 20.00 at night and they're on their way to a party. I think most of them went home, but one 73 year old attendee was ready to acquire a toy boy on the bus journey there.
Here was tangible proof that my beauty/cancer philosophy holds true; Looking good feels better, so 18 odd women could now also testify, and even committed confirmation to a form asking how their workshop could be improved. All responses were variations on 'It Cannot'. Apart from 73 year old Phyllis who felt her experience could have been richer with the addition of a stripper-gram. See the effect a bit of lipstick can have on a woman's confidence?
So I renege on my aforementioned support-group phobia. This was the first time I'd been in a situation with other cancer victims (I'm told I'm not supposed to use the V word), aside from the chemo suite obviously, but I don't think Elton John-A-Like could have helped me much anyway. It was certainly nice to chat hot flushes and reconstruction with someone other than poor, aurally assaulted DadJokes. There's nothing he doesn't know about the requirements of a post-surgery bra or how many millimetres a day my eyebrows grow. Someone please let me know if there's a workshop for bombarded boyfriends too...
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