Thursday, 6 October 2011

A Postcard From Paphos

I'm blogging from my third day of a looong awaited holiday, where I promised myself no work (which includes blogging) but I've unexpectedly reached the pinnacle of tactlessness and my sensitivity threshold has been breached and if I don't write it down I might implode. It was during a massage you see...

I've tweeted about how a few solitary comments from slightly, let's say mentally compromised well wishers, took my fragile post treatment state, smashed it on the floor and directed raging bulls from Pamplona to the studio in N1 where I was shooting that day, to trample over it. Since then I seem to be an inadvertent collector of shit-scary comments.

The first went like this via email: 'oh, you have the same kind of cancer as me, what a relief to find someone else in that 5-10% bracket of people who won't get better and lead a normal life.'

Eh? I should be more intelligent than to take on board the ramblings of an insensitive nut job, over the medical professionals who have thus far omitted that important information. But I've already blogged about how intelligent goes out the post- treatment window in favour of irrational and jelly-like.

Having deleted the rest of the email, finished up a private breakdown in the studio toilet and tweeted my angst to receive countless cheery responses (thank you thank you), I bolstered myself back up and set off for the wonderful Katie Selby's wedding weekend of joy.

Granted it was an emotional day, so maybe I was already a bit taut when one drunk guest came to tell me how she 'nearly shaved her own head' (tip: this is along the same irritating lines as 'I have perfect vision, unlike you speccy four eyes, but I'm going to wear those plastic dummy frames because they are cool'. But x 1000). 'It's because my mum had breast cancer like you, and just finished radiotherapy like you, and thought it was all clear like you, but it wasn't and now it's secondary so all very tragic.' Um, yes, VERY tragic, but in what realms of possibility does this sound like a conversation I want to partake in? She was drunk enough to be forgiven, and not even notice my abrupt departure mid sentence, which just left DadJokes to pleasantly deal with the tail end.

My next collectors item was procured at the Look Good...Feel Better Beauty Editor day at Selfridges. An otherwise amazing experience, this year somewhat dampened by a hijacker, who hadn't paid £20 to have a time slot with me, but came to tell me she had breast cancer in her late 20's, nowhere near as bad as mine and was I on Tamoxifen? (Yes), well be careful of Tamoxifen, because the side effect is cervical cancer. OK thanks for that. I think this must be what it's like for pregnant women, I bet they get all sorts of motherly strangers feeling their bumps and proffering stories of horrific childbirth.

So then came my holiday. The culmination of all this shittiness, my reward at the end of treatment, my treat where I'm testing out the powers of the miracle bikinis, the chance to escape from reality and rest properly for the first time in ages.

So while I was looking forward to my first Cypriot massage, I didn't expect the 50 minute barrage of jabbering advice, and horror stories I was presented with.
My therapist was a loon of epic proportions, and since I was doubtless a captive audience, it made perfect sense to relaaaaax me with tales of lymphodeoema and her own mums mastectomy and subsequent demise ('it's the operation; as soon as you let oxygen at it, it'll take over your liver'). She finished with an impromptu 'clinical' lymphatic massage which frankly terrified me and bloody hurt too.

I think I'll avoid putting my intimate medical history on those spa forms until I'm a bit more on the mental mend. The view from my sun lounger is certainly helping, as is the lack of wifi and email avoidance. No offence dear emailers, 99% of my inbox is amazing, so at the risk of sounding a bit Dear John, it's not you, it's me!

Unless you're one of the aforementioned idiots of course...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iSad RIP Steve Jobs

Location:Pathos, Cyprus


  1. I can't remember the exact phrase but I'm pretty sure some spiritual leader said that the path to enlightenment is achieved by learning to ignore things. And it's things like this- which make your head hurt because they're SO stupid, so achingly slap-that-bitch-hard worthy, that you need to learn and fight to ignore. The success and satisfaction comes from when people come up to you and say things like that and it doesn't bother you anymore. You mention pregnancy, and yes, it's similar but filled with a passive aggressive dictatorship tone where a large proportion of the population seem to think they're an expert, an ACTUAL expert in your body and children and you WILL listen and agree with them. But what I've learnt is that everyone is an expert in their OWN pregnancy, their OWN children and what goes for them is completely different for someone else. Realising this took a lot of fear out. It didn't make it any less annoying but it gives me the power over their words. Maybe that's a way you can deal with these people and their stories? Unfortunately we can't stick fingers in our ears and go la la la la la la........ Can we?!?!?

  2. some people are just so tactless and blurt out whatever they are thinking. i'm sorry you had to deal with their stupid, insensitive jabbering. hope you have a relaxing holiday!!!! xo

  3. Firstly that photo of you with the bride is just RAVISHING.

    Secondly, I hear ya sista. With lil'sis and her MS we've had to put up with a twelve year barrage of IDIOCY. When you (or a relative) are sick people seem to think that the illness is public property. If it isn't someone hijacking us for hours at a party or a reader sending me rambling emails about how their second cousin's next door neighbour's auntie was SAVED by rubbing sheep poo in their head, it's someone telling us how very VERY ill their aunt/neighbour/parent is with MS.

    What IS it with this people and their tongues that appear to be hinged in the middle,so they can rabbit rubbish even faster at us?


  4. The problem is, they're trying to empathise. They just don't quite know how to.

    That's a gorgeous photo of the pair of you. Thank you for sharing it!

  5. It's hard to know what to say I guess. People can't do right for doing wrong etc etc. I'm not saying you're not right to feel as you do but I think that's why a lot of your frankly brilliant posts receive just a few comments. I suspect, most of us (including normally myself) read and run because we just can't find the words. Y'know?

  6. Very good point well made Arlene. Can see that im slightly erring on the side of grumpy but certainly not ungrateful! Thanks for commenting x

  7. And thanks for all the lovely supportive comments while I'm at it. You

  8. I'm really aware that people struggle to know what to say and worry about saying the wrong thing. So much so that I usually end up trying to cover up their discomfort by jabbering idiotically myself! Fool! But I have been caught off guard a couple of times. It's because you can receive emails, updates and comments whilst on the go- I was at work and an email popped up on my phone to alert me of a new twitter follower- lovely you might think until you read his profile- a man writing a book to help young children cope after losing their mother to breast cancer- as I say I was caught off guard and so I cried- I was in work mode not cancer mode- I just wasn't in the right frame of mind to think about that prospect! My iPhone has a lot to answer for! Or maybe I should just lock it away til hometime! Enjoy the sunshine! Xx

  9. I'm with you on the relaxing spa treatment turned medical nightmare re lived scenario. There's nothing like going for a relaxing massage only to end up with a therapist too scared to touch you or one who tells you that her mum had breast cancer too. Fab post. Enjoy your rest.