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Special occasion

Posted May 03 2013 12:00am

I always make an effort with how I look, but today I dressed with special care.

First, extra-pretty underwear. I have always liked good underwear – at 36DD, if you’re not prepared to invest in some decent bras you end up with what Joy calls ‘Grandma breasts’. (For clarity: this is a generic term, not a specific reference.) And, post-cancer, I’ve become even more keen on beautiful bras and matching knickers, reminding my body on a daily basis that it’s doing a damned fine job of wellness, and I appreciate it. But today I chose one of my favourite sets.

Then, a short dress covered in butterflies, with leggings and boots. A necklace and bracelet that were made for me at a market in France. Special care with makeup.

Basically, this morning I am getting ready in the way that I would if I was going to a job interview, or a parents’ evening, or making a court appearance. (As a witness. I don’t have a secret criminal life. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I? Mwahahaha….) Except that, in any of those situations, I’d usually be wearing a frock.

The reason I’m preparing with care is because today is Mammogram Day. And yes, I could tip up in my jeans or treat today like any other day. (Except for the frock part. It’s much easier to preserve a semblance of dignity if the bottom half of you is normally dressed. I’ve had a mammogram while waring only shoes, knickers and tights before, and it was deeply disconcerting.) In fact, as I wondered about what to wear this morning, I did wonder why I was being so choosy.

I think there are three reasons. Firstly, this is an important day. I know I won’t get results today; this test is in preparation for my consultancy appointment, in July. But mammograms matter. They are a lifesaver for older women, who have cancers caught early enough to save their lives. They are conducted by women who have always been, in my experience, professional, compassionate, determined and kind. (With a streak of ruthlessness. They really want to get ALL of that breast in there. It’s amazing how the poor things will stretch when compelled.)

Secondly – and I’m aware how silly this makes me sound – I feel as though by making an effort I’m honouring what I’ve been through, what other women have been through. I don’t know why extra-nice hair and two shades of eyeshadow and my cheerful butterfly tunic translates to this, but somehow, it does. Forgive me if I sound trivial. I wish I could explain it better.

And this day is the day that means I can carry on with my life. Afterwards, I’m going to do a bit of shopping, chat to Genius about a new computer, then have dinner and go to the theatre with Alan. I’m fairly sure that I won’t think about cancer once I’ve stepped out of the hospital, and I won’t think about it much until – well, until I have my consultancy appointment, I suppose.

And if that isn’t worth dressing up for, I’m not sure what is.

May 3, 2013
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