You look well! #Cancer by Louise Blenkinsop

Why thank you! How nice is that? To receive a compliment!

Last week I had an appointment with someone I had never met before, the only information other than my name was that I needed some long overdue TLC following cancer treatment.

Despite waiting in the designated place, I was overlooked as the next client initially, until the receptionist explained who I was.

“Oh, you look too well!” was the greeting I received. How wonderful you may think – yes I make sure I have make up on, I dress well (I think!), my hair was styled to my best abilities that morning. I looked perfectly presentable.

I have tried to maintain this throughout illness, I always make the best possible effort I can on that day to not scare people off in the street. Appearance is important to me. Shallow? I don’t think so – I like to feel good about myself, I like that I can rock a red lippy. I am quite happy for others to tie their hair up and not worry about a spot of foundation; in fact I am quite jealous of that ability to roll out of bed, get in the shower, pull on clothes and step out the house ready to face the day. For me, I cannot do that – I’m from a line of strong women with a love of face lotions and potions and making themselves up. It’s there in my genetic coding. Mascara is my best friend.

When I received my cancer diagnosis I had not long turned 30, I remember a nurse advising me to kick back and ride out the journey – sleep for as long as you can, you don’t have to worry about what people think when you come into hospital. No chance! I didn’t want anyone to think I had hit 30 and gone downhill – no way! My radiographers used to tell me off about my choice of underwear – surely 100% cotton is far more comfortable? No way! I’ll wear what makes me feel good!

I am fully aware I may lure people into a false sense of security with the effort I put in to not look completely ropey each day, and for the best part I can only give myself a pat on the back for that. The point I am really trying to make is there are others like me out there – in your office, serving you in a shop, working out in your gym. Women, and men (hey, this is the 21st century) that have put some effort in their appearance. They are styled. But they may also be dealing with a long term health condition. After 8 hours at their desk, they may go home and be unable to get up off the sofa. After their shift on the bar, they may be experiencing excruciating pain. Some may go home, and not surface until the next day.

You may be unaware, and that’s fine, we are creatures of intrigue and mystery – we like to cover our imperfections. But if you do know, there is no such thing as “looking too well”. Our outward appearance masks a potential hornet’s nest. So just be mindful, don’t take our wellness for granted.

So, flattered as I was that day, I wasn’t feeling particularly well. My hips were hurting, I was tired beyond comprehension, and slightly stressed out. Happily, I eventually evened out after some TLC and my outward appearance matched my inward feeling, magic!

PS the radiographers were right, I did have to concede defeat over 100% cotton underwear. Oh the shame! All in the bin now mind! Ha!