Last summer I was still wig reliant, revelling in the novelty of recent chemo graduation, and the joy of venturing outside in actual clothes, rather than PJ's and a bobble hat. The whole season was also spent recuperating from mastectomy or undergoing radiotherapy, so I don't think I can count that summer as a very typical one.
This one however, has brought with it the crashing realisation that it is not so much a cancer-survivors friend. In the few short days I have known the sun in 2012, I was really starting to hate it. This is not a happy state of affairs. I could definitely do with the Vitamin D, and the pull of the little bit of grass outside my office is great for the work/life balance plan I'm trying to action at the moment ('lunch break' is not usually in my remit), but by 'eck the hotter season is a whole new learning experience.
This is what I have learnt so far:
HOT is something I've been avoiding since I started hormone suppressing therapy last year. At least three times a night I have to violently reject the duvet, and my mini desk fan is the only thing keeping me appropriately clothed in the office. Add in actual tangible heat and we have a series of problems:
a) It feels like a hot flush all the time. This means my usual 'this too will pass' coping mechanism for each one is not so effective. And I feel that squirmy discomfort that is so much more than just 'hot' (menopausal women, pregnant ladies and fellow C-word sufferers will concur) a lot more.
b) I really notice the absence of antiperspirant for the first time since I gave up the habit. The thought of putting chemicals near my scar is all wrong, and I don't want to tempt fate with the remaining boob, so I swapped my aluminium, effective underarm care, for natural, deodorising alternatives. All well and good when sweating is not really an issue. But throw in a bit of scorching sunshine, a public transport system more suited to medieval times in terms of air conditioning, and clothes that have to conceal a load of brand new body issues, and by god do I miss the Mitchum.
CLOTHING was always a fun transition from winter to summer. Away go the high necks and long sleeves and out come the floaty fabrics and airy, strappy, wafty, heat-proof options. (although you should probably know, I don't store clothes - I buy new season instead. Any excuse...) I've been practising mastectomy dressing for nearly a year now, so I'm really quite good at it, but summer mastectomy dressing is a different matter entirely. As discovered five minutes before I had to leave for my friend Leyla's wedding last weekend. I had bought a dress especially. It ticked all the boxes: thick straps to hide ugly bra, not too low cut to hide ugly bra, cool and colour blocked, BCBG designed but Outnet discounted, and hanging in my wardrobe in eager anticipation of the sunny Saturday when I'd get to wear it. Hair done (we'll come onto that), makeup done, bag packed, beautiful dress donned, Dadjokes waiting at the door, me putting shoes on, Dadjokes informing me you can see right down my top when I bend over and it isn't such a pretty site. Me resolving to never bend down, Dadjokes warning me I'm quite likely to need to bend down, me scouring the house for tit tape, admitting defeat and tearfully putting on the first thing I pull from wardrobe for the wedding I've been looking forward to dressing for since I heard about the engagement. Yes, tearfully. I am sort of ashamed to say I cried over a dress, but it was an expensive and rushed realisation of what an inconvenient f*cker this whole business can be. Mark II happened a few days later at work when I wore a nice floaty racer back top with jeans, spent a good proportion of the morning applying and reapplying tit tape, finding it is no match for a weighty prosthetic, admitting defeat and rifling through the cupboard for a sleeved, high necked top that challenged my natural deodorant no end.
So I'll sleep on it, and update you on the practicalities of glorious British summertime with a growing out pixie crop just as soon as I've found something helpful to say. For now, I learn! Over n out...