When I first started writing this blog, 18 months or so ago I didn’t really know where to start, what I was doing or how best to go about it. Nor did I ever, ever expect to write about the story I’m about to tell you today. But it is one I am immensely proud of and what’s more is a hot topic of conversation in the beauty world at the moment, therefore I feel it is only my duty and immense pride to share it.
For the full story please check out the following link in the Lancaster Guardian
* Deep Breath * so here goes……
So it all starts off, as most mornings, with me peeking one eye open and wishing I had another half hour snooze and wondering why on earth I have to get out of my nice warm, comfy bed. The cat is equally perturbed. I have a quick scan of my emails, see if much is happening on twitter and check Facebook to see what has happened in the last 8 hours that I have been asleep. Normally it is nothing but today was a different matter. I noticed a trend happening. Remember not so long ago when #necknominations happened, where people (hands up including myself) downed a pint and filmed it for no reason at all except to be part of a huge gang around the world and look cool. Stupid. But today, something different is born and it is a lot less stupid.
All over my news feed, Facebook and even the celebs are starting to catch on there is a hashtag (one of these, just in case….#) labelled #nomakeupselfie and #beatcancersooner with a message that if you want to beat cancer sooner then you are to text the word ‘beat’ to 70099. It looks something like this :
The later it got into the day the more I saw it appear on my news feed and just with like #necknominations I was astounded just how quickly something viral can spread. A bit like cancer I suppose. Then I had a message from a friend wanting to ask my opinion about a sensitive issue – this said friend I am due to meet up with to drink gin and eat doughnuts but sadly it wasn’t about that. She did however pose a question which has led me to question my thoughts and opinions, but also give an answer. And the question was this :
“I’ve just been watching the online debates about the make up free selfies for “cancer” and was wondering what your take on it was as someone who has experienced it. One side says they increase awareness (though I’m not sure what of, just that cancer exists, maybe?) and that they show solidarity to people going through cancer treatment. The other side says that comparing not wearing make up to mirror the experience of cancer treatment is insulting and that it does nothing to raise awareness as everyone already knows that cancer exists. I have friends all over Facebook fighting about it and just wondered what your take on it was.”
So – there a few points to address in this question. First one I suppose is to share with you a brief synopsis of my story – I am 30 years old, you’ve seen pictures that I live a full and healthy lifestyle, I am sociable, outgoing, bubbly – and in June last year I was dealt the single biggest blow of my life, the biggest heartbreak that I, P, O and my loving friends and family would ever experience. I learnt I had a tumour on my kidney and it could potentially be cancer. This was found on the back of having an ultra sound as I was suffering from gallstones at the time. I went under a series of tests, biopsy, scans and it was decided that the tumour was to be removed on October 7th last year, which it was, so that it could be tested and confirmed as to exactly what it was. The results came back at the end of November half way through my recovery time and it was confirmed that it was a very rare form of kidney cancer, even rarer that I was female and under 30.
I wont lie, the mental anguish of dealing with that took weeks, maybe months. It was hell. It broke my world apart and with help from a lot of sources I am pleased to report I am proudly building my life back together, it has proven to me what a strong relationship I have with P and how amazing and lucky I am to have such a brilliant support network. I am even luckier in that I didn’t have to have chemotherapy or radiotherapy and I will be monitored for the rest of my life most probably with scans as it is the type that has a high risk of coming back. But that’s a minor detail and if it has taught me anything, as clichéd as it sounds, it is that you need to make the most of life and that is what I intend to do.
So – that’s it in a nutshell. Whilst I am immensely proud of my recent and ongoing strife I also feel like I am one of the fortunate ones as they were able to remove the 13cm tumour. That was the easy part. The hard part was the recovery. Cancer is such an evil, scary, hard to say out loud and shocking word. According to Cancer Research UK, there are around 309 500 new cases of cancer (excluding non melanoma skin cancer) diagnosed each year in the UK, and more than 1 in 3 people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. But knowing that doesn’t make hearing it any better or easier to cope with. I feel like its all I have talked about for the last 6 months, like I have a label attached. But once I had realised that it is now part of my history rather than it being all that I am about, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with sharing my story for awareness but also to inspire and help people because without my support network I know that I wouldn’t be the person that I proudly am today.
Selfie or Not to Selfie?
So – what do I think to the make up free selfies for cancer? What do you think? I think its amazing for so many reasons. First and foremost it is to raise awareness for something that is evil. Whether you beat it or suffer at the hands of it, if one person donates towards the research that these charities carry out that wouldn’t have done before, then it has made a difference for the greater good. The solidarity side is equally fabulous – whilst you can question why people want to be a part of something (is it because they truly support and understand the cause or because they want to be a part of something and feel like they have done something good) then it doesn’t really matter – the simple fact remains is that cancer knocks every ounce of strength out of even the strongest human from time to time and knowing that there are people going through similar journeys to them, especially when very little makes sense, is reassurance that no money can buy. Also knowing that people are fighting to achieve the same end result is humbling and something to be proud of.
Where did it all come from?
As for whether it is an insult – no, I don’t think so. Firstly, having cancer means that things that were once important suddenly become irrelevant. Apparently the origins of this #nomakeupselfie is because an 81 year old actress was criticised by the media at the Oscars for how she looked. A fellow actress then took a no make up selfie to show solidarity and to express that women were beautiful without the stylists. Whilst this is true and important, this is not the point. The point is that this 81 year old marvel had fought and beaten cancer. She has the right to look however she wants anyway, who are the media to judge, but I speak from experience and a frustrated make up collection when I say that things like that really do become irrelevant. I didn’t have any interest in make up, my appearance for months. I still care a lot less than I ever used to but quite frankly that is something else I am proud of! My make up routine is the same whether I go to work or out at night and can be done without a mirror. If you don’t like it, don’t talk to me.
But I digress – apparently on the back of this misunderstanding (but equally representation of solidarity, just for the wrong cause) this viral phenomenon has occurred. Millions of women around the world are proudly parading their pure, natural, fresh faced look, and hopefully, what’s more, is that they are donating £3 to an amazing cause. Yes, there are the nay sayers as I saw on the 130 000 populated Facebook page entitled ‘No Make Up Selfie For Cancer Awareness‘, those who are criticising people for still having eye liner on, those who are on the site commenting on every girl and even those complaining that their ‘type’ of cancer isn’t featured in the header banner. But they are all missing the point massively. As nice as it is to be told that you look beautiful without make up – it is unlikely that you will find many cancer fighters wearing make up. And they do NOT want to be pitied, told they look beautiful, especially when they know they don’t. They want help, money, research, support, strength, hope, love, fight and power. Power to beat the @*#’. And that is why, when done for the right reasons, taking part in the #NoMakeUpSelfieForCancerAwareness means that you are doing yourself, and millions of others, proud.
So – what do you think? Do you agree? Perhaps you don’t? I mean everyone is entitled to their own opinions so feel free to share. After all, that is wonder and power of social media. It is somewhat terrifying quite how powerful it can be……If you have made it to the end of this blog then I thank you enormously! And love you for your support. Now go and enjoy the sunshine and I will be back next week.
Lots of love and hugs