#G I R L vs C A N C E R: MAMMOIRS OF INVASIVE DUCTAL BREAST CARCINOMA
THE KILL ME WITH KINDNESS
Photography by Jay McLaughlin
Within two hours of being told of the tumorous little twat there I was, sat in my local pub surrounded by 12-15 of my friends and family being plied with prosecco. Mother Mahon remarked – “I tell you what Lol if love and support could cure it babe you’d already be well”. If only it were that simple eh?
But this has continued to be the overarching theme of my cancer journey thus far. The astounding support. I mean who knew this little gobshite had so many mates? Nah me neither.
From the get go my nearest and oh-so-dearest assembled – Transformers style – calls, cards, cuddles and care packages. Everyone stepped-in to secure their part in the shit storm that was about to play out. Sister Mahon became Medical Secretary, taking down all of the notes from all of the hospital appointments, because although my body was in the room my brain bloody wasn’t. Brother Mahon took on the role of Social Assistant, answering what felt like an onslaught of enquiries from those who loved me most. I’d wake to twenty-one Whatsapp messages some mornings. Yep. And although well-meaning and crammed with concern I just couldn’t summon the energy to explain, update, reassure. So mi bredda did it all for me. The absolute G.
Mummy + Daddy did exactly what Mummies + Daddies do best. Were strong for me and each other (they’ve been here before). Instilling in me an unwavering certainty that this is temporary, that I’m going to be better than fine because nothing, and I mean nothing, comes for their cubs without getting their hands bitten off. This cancer never had a chance TBF.
Seeing what cancer does your people is proper rough. It shakes the foundations of your friendships and for a bit things can become a bit strange. On the whole those who have always been there, are there. I mean having witnessed a slightly sozzled Lozza, kebab in one hand and swinging for a lad with her stiletto in’t other, nothing was ever going to phase them was it. There’s the welcome return of my homies whose lives I have meandered in and out of over the last decade, as you do, but when chemo hit the fan found their way back and planted themselves firmly on the front line. Some took the scenic route. Initial shock and sheer terror forcing a temporary wedge between us whilst they gathered themselves and come back at it ready to give this thing the best they’ve got.
And then there are those that aren’t there. Like at all. I get it, I do. This is hard. But trust me it’s hardest for me. I know who you are. You know who you are. And it’s okay. Kinda.
Look, I’m by no means a Judy Judgepot. For most folk this is their first ever encounter with the c*nt they call cancer and it can feel like a right no-mans land to navigate. But because I’m a fucking legend I’ve taken the time to compile my tips for those who find themselves or their loved ones in a situation as similarly shit as mine. You can find them at the link below:
So what’s all this ‘Kill Me With Kindness’ malarky in the title then?
I’m a ‘YES’ girl – steady on – always have been and probably always will be. But this has been more than a little problematic the last couple of months. Even in my current medical condition my inherent need to please is causing me misgivings. Especially with requests to come visit me at Chemo Towers or take me on a Non-Oncological Outing.
Trust me Daddy I would love nothing more than to have you distract me from these dire straits I find myself in. But I’m not 100% me right now.
I’m a pocket rocket, sure, however during treatment I just don’t have it in me. I’m balding and achey and unable to string a sentence together or remember what I said two seconds ago. I’m at my lowest, I’m empty and even the smallest of conversations take up extreme energy. It’s at these times the only ones I can bare beside me are those who have held my hair out of toilet bowls, undressed me in drunken stupors, clawed me out from a post-Glasto comedowns and cradled my snotty heartbroken head during the last thirty-one years. And that’s okay. I think? I hope so anyway.
I wholeheartedly appreciate you wanting to come over for a cuppa or pop out for some pizza, more than you know. It means the entire world. And that’s why it pains me to have to keep pushing back so PLEASE promise me you won’t take it to heart. Mine couldn’t take it.
Believe me. If mi need ya. Mi let cha know.
I also decided to ‘go public’ with my shitty titty news didn’t I – Call Me Caitlin – and to be perfectly honest the level of response has been difficult to digest. In the best possible way.
Before I go on I’m about to let you in on the inner workings of little Lozza’s psyche. My entire life I’ve invested a LOT into people. Everything really. No grey area there. But you know that inspirational quote that is forever doing the rounds – “Sometimes we expect more from others because we’d be willing to do that much for them” – yeah that’ll be me. Despite my hard-as-nails exterior offering out the old zero-fucks-given attitude I do in actual fact give all of the fucks. I just accepted that’s how relationships were going to be for me. Until now.
Without realising it all this time I had been creating an army. A biggun. I’d nurtured a network of absolute bawse gyal and guy dem that reaches far further than I can comprehend. Game Of Thrones ain’t got fuck all on my mob let me tell you! Even my ultimate spirit animal Danny Dyer got in on the action with a video of support. The nawwwty little sausage.
Maybe I’d had blinkers on or something? Because there you were all along, right when I needed you most. Ready and waiting in some very trendy riot gear. And I am completely in awe of every single one of you. I’ve been bowled over by the support of the blogging community, championing me from the sidelines and shooting to my side as soon as my game-changing insta announcement went out. Ex-colleagues flying the ‘YOU GOT THIS’ flag, the kindness of complete strangers and an incredible crew of cancer warriors who have offered me steadfast support on a platter. Silver one. Folding me into their tribe, feeding me all the encouragement and kick-ass vibes humanly available. You get me. You get this. You inspire me daily. Alice Purkiss I’m looking at you.
Finally there are what I like to call the #CancerPrizes. How do I even begin to thank the brands who have bestowed me with a bevvy of generous goods to help me on my way? Trust me nothing lifts your chemo-quashed spirits quite like a Net-a-Porter box turning up at your door. Or flannelette La Redoute loungewear. Or a Boss Lady Bag from your fave accessory babe Sophia Webster. Well there has to be some perks to this piss take right?
Oh stop rolling your eyes and spouting out the #HumbleBrag hype. Here lies the reason why I’ve been bowled over so hardcore.
When all you’ve ever felt is second place, an option, that’s kinda what you think you are to people. You accept that’s all you deserve.
But if this battle I’ve got on my hands has brought anything to light it’s my worth. That I matter. That I’m valued by those who I value beyond all measure. And as I stood in AIDA Shoreditch last week surrounded by a sea of faces beaming with affection, for me, it reaffirmed just how fucking loved + lucky I am. Because isn’t that what life’s about after all. To love and be loved in return.
Until next time… I’VE ONLY GOT THIS BECAUSE YOU’VE GOT ME. Thank you. I love you.
NOT A PITY PARTY
The true cost of cancer goes way beyond health, it impacts every aspect of your life. You need rest yet still have bills to pay. Food to purchase. It’s one huge stress you don’t factor in on diagnosis.
Last Tuesday my fabulous friends threw me a party to help me to pay my rent + live a little during treatment. But it was NOT A PITY PARTY. Oh No.
To my Linda AKA Lindsey Holland who made it happen. AIDA for hosting the damn thang. My fundraising fam, raffle donors and incredible catering sponsors. And all who made the effort to come down and support me… You’ll never ever know the depth of my appreciation.