Tag Archives: coppafeel

Keeping abreast

So … as some of you will remember, a couple of years ago, I shaved my hair off to raise money for Cop a Feel https://strangemadeup.com/2017/10/16/copp-a-feel/

This is a subject I am pretty passionate about, mostly because I was caught with a lump in my breast in my twenties. That isn’t to say that breast cancer was a new idea to me. My mother trained as a nurse and had shared some horror stories growing up. However, I can be a tad complacent when it comes to health because I have no family history. Something my mother complains about when she thinks about her current list of ailments (A list far longer than a middle aged woman should have, apparently.).

As usual, I digress. I had a couple of days off at the end of February and decided to make a GP appointment in my time off for a few things that have been niggling me. One of these things is a lump in my left arm pit. This is not new, I had first noticed it as a teenager, and was dismissed by my GP, telling me that he wouldn’t have it removed because what teenager wants a scar in her armpit..

So anyways, I have grown up with this lump and it has caused some dis-figuration. But the reason that I wanted to speak to someone is because it had been causing me some pain, and look at the possibility of it being removed. I saw a locum doctor who told me that this would need to be checked in the breast clinic, and a letter with an appointment would follow.

So far, so good. Except for the phone call that afternoon by the practice secretary telling me that an emergency appointment had been made for me at the breast cancer clinic. Now if that isn’t a sobering call to receive.

So to time line this, my GP appointment was on Monday, 24th February. I was seen at the hospital on 6th March.

Now this was … this was an expereince. I don’t want to scare or worry anyone, I just feel that if I am going to write at all, I want it to be reflection of my person experience.

I was called into the consulting room and asked to undress. Not going to lie, I thought I would t least speak to the consultant initially fully dressed. The consult came into the room and asked if a junior doctor could sit in. Not a problem for me, everyone has to learn.

Now this bit, this is … so I was asked a few basic questions, nothing really, that couldn’t be gleaned from my notes. I would say that there was a slight lack of bedside manners but I also understand that these clinics are very busy. I was lying down, having met this doctor moments before when he started checking my breasts, clinical but I still felt violated, like a slab of meat on a chopping board. I am, for once, not being melodramatic. He assessed that there isn’t anything serious, just some breast tissue that has migrated. And my first thought was “could y’all not stay in your lane?”.

I was directed to the breast clinic for scan, this is now familiar footing for me, in my first breast cancer scare, I was biopsied and scanned in the first instance and never actually saw a doctor! So I was called into a clinical room, again, undressed, positioned and the clinician for this part of my day was so calm and relaxing. She did a scan, and had a look at the lump. More because of the dubious history (is this new, or is this the same lump?) she recommended a biopsy to rule out any concerns. I could hear the nurses and HCA’s laughing and joking outside and it actually helped me relax, knowing that they clearly have a good working relationship.

Now, well the biopsy was something else. When I had the lump in my breast biopsied, that was not fun, not at all. Not a little bit. And I had expressed my concerns. However, this was a whole new ball game and the implement that was designed to take the biopsy .. I didn’t look because, frankly I can’t stand needles and having the implant is bad enough. But I can tell you what it feels like!

Have you had your ears pierced with a gun? It is exactly that sensation. A punching sensation but it didn’t hurt. It was just odd. Similar to dental work, you can’t feel any pain but the movement?

So anyways, I chatted again to the nurse as I got dressed and got sent back over to the main clinic. That was short and sweet, I was told that a follow up appointment would be made with my results, but again, dismissively rather that reassuringly, telling me he didn’t feel it was anything to worry about.

Sidebar – I am the worst for making doctor appointments, I will only do it when absolutely necessary. And that is because I have time, and again, been treated like a hypochondriac. Which I could understand if they saw me more often. Its an appointment every 3 years if that..

So anyways, there we are waiting for a letter, for a followup appointment… eventually one comes, cal I attend on 18th March.

I saw another consultant this time, again in the consulting room, sat on the bed, so I was genuinely worried I was due for another exam. But no, the good news is that the lump is benign, and they would remove it (post lockdown) and in the meantime, to monitor and let my GP know if it got worse.

And so .. this is my concern, could this not better have been handled with a phone call, it was good news, there wasn’t a clinical reason to have me reattend and I would have saved some time?

So that is my story, and what I want to reiterate to you, is that please, check your boobs and your pits, if you have any lumps, swelling, heat, anything abnormal (that is, not normal for your boobs!) please call your doctor. I realise that I am writing this in the middle of a lockdown but you will need to address it and make sure you are checked out!

The long and the short of it …

Short hair.

Now I have been threatening for years, to shave my hair off. It was always an idle threat to a degree. There are a lot of reasons why you second guess doing it. I had been joking about shaving my hair off a lot at work because I have been mistreating it a lot and when we started planning what to do to raise money…. why not shave our heads. We had only been talking about it the week before hand.

So My colleague and I excitedly started making preparations, getting supplies, setting a date. There was certainly a lot of goading between the 2 of us, and it still didn’t seem real until we received our first donations on Just Giving.

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We started getting twitchy. But why? What is wrong with having short hair? It isn’t even down to gender, both men and women are dictated to when it comes to hair. Last week a friend’s child bought home a letter with the minimum length her son could have at school. And how many times are we told, impressed upon, or told that long hair is desirable in women (symbolism a la Mulan).

I haven’t had long hair for a good 5 years or so, I mean I grow it to my shoulders and get bored. But I remember shortly after I cut it all off, I had sat in the car with no makeup and looking in the mirror, saying ‘I look like a boy now’ .. a friend commented on a selfie I had posted ‘so … rock and roll grew up, gave up, and cut her hair off’ (I deserved that, I was pretty rude when he cut off his hair).

Hell, it was probably said in jest, but doesn’t everything have an element of truth? Every time I put on a wig, with long, luscious curls… I feel great. Like my makeup, it is another layer that stops me looking like… me? As an aside, I realised this summer that I have to wear makeup when I wear baseball caps as they hide (hid?) all my hair and facially it left me looking fairly androgynous.

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Since I started writing this post, I have had my hair shaved, so this is becoming more reflective in tone. I won’t lie, it was emotional. For someone who had pretty much emotionally detached herself from her own hair nearly 2 years ago, the thought of losing it was difficult. I even shed a tear – I think that was more the high emotions of the entire day, people telling me how brave I am.

It is funny, this blog post has had 25 (at last count) revisions, I have retyped, deleted, moved, thought things through. What is it. Hair, that is all it is. But as the cover image states, hair is the crown you never take off. We are taught from a young age that long hair is more feminine and throughout history we have seen women being shorn of hair as not only defeminising but dehumanising. And more than that, we have to think that people might worry that there is a medical reason that you have lost your hair (especially if you wear a headscarf like me). And that raises awkward questions, people becoming embarrassed for assuming or asking and you trying to comfort them in their embarrassment.

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But what it comes down to, vanity. It really is that simple, when I get upset about looking like a boy, when I worry about having to wear makeup so I don’t look like an alien (no brows or hair), it is simple, it is because I don’t want to look androgynous, because I lose my sense of identity. But at the same time, not having my hair, it is making me question my vanity. Is hair really all that important, when it comes down to it. I wear wigs FFS so clearly I am not that invested in my hair. It makes me question myself and how I go through life, those moments when I worry about what my hair looks like, when I stop to look in a mirror to check my hair, when I reach to check my hair when I take off my coat, those moments throughout the day that I tweak, brush, move, adjust. 

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I am not brave, I am not fighting anything. It was only hair. I was so blase about shaving it off, and yes, I am not loving it. But me, cutting my hair off? All that has been effected is my vanity. People who are effected by cancer, who have no choice, they are the ones that are brave, they are the ones who deserve our respect.  So while I am not in love with my look, has it changed me? That much? Nope, I need to get over myself and keep my vanity in check.

Those people that we helped with our fundraising, everyone who supports and works with/for Coppafeel every day? They are the ones that we should be raising a glass to. 

And on that note, I am happy to say that we smashed out target of £200, and raised £420 (and counting) 

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Copp a feel

and think of me.

So at the end of the month, I will be having my hair shaved off for charity along with a friend/coworker.

Kevin Murphy are supporting Coppafeel through out October to raise awareness and promote self checks in young women. Breast cancer is something we have all been directly or indirectly been touched by, who hasn’t had that doctors appointment, had a family member, friend, colleague.

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We all know about the Race for Life, we wear pink, we wear our ribbons of support. But the problem, is two fold.

We don’t check our own breasts. We are still coming to terms with our own bodies, that it is okay to be confident in them, to talk about them. We don’t know what looks normal, where are we going to gauge this. We look at the media, we see augmented, photo-shopped, we see cosmetically enhanced. We don’t know that our own breasts are just that. Our own. But what we need to do is get used to them, we need to learn to love them and spot changes in them.

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We need to learn to go and speak to someone if you spot any changes. Don’t think you are being a bother, or a worrier, or that you will be dismissed out of hand. You are the only one who knows if there is something different. 

One thing that people have mentioned to me as I pass out cards at work. They know they should be checking their breasts but they don’t know how. They don’t know what to look for. What should be a trigger. Well honestly anything that isn’t normal – ask your partner if they notice changes as well. 

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If you go to CoppaFeel they have a range of resources to help you – including guides to check your breasts and even a text reminder so you will never forget to check. 

Like I said, I will be shaving my hair off at at the end of the month to help support and raise awareness – if you can spare a £1 please CLICK HERE to go to my Just Giving page. 

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