The stigma around cancer is a persistent one. I remember some 15 years ago, my grandmother was in London from Egypt, staying at our house during her treatment; we were at lunch one day and when asked my star sign (Cancer), I just couldn’t bring myself to say the word out loud. Fast forward and the fear around the word is no less pervasive, no doubt worsened by all the scare-mongering campaigns and the serious lack of visibility for both cancer battlers, and survivors. All we see are bald-headed men and women on TV, looking frail and frightened when that is far from the complexity of the reality. Indeed, the relative survival rate for women with stage 0 or stage I breast cancer is close to 100%, while for women with stage II breast cancer, the 5-year relative survival rate is about 93%. That’s a whopping majority.
No wonder, perhaps, that when my good friend Lauren Mahon of Girl Stole London got diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago, she decided to do something to combat the stigma, to allow her to take back some of the control; to portray a positive, inspirational, hopeful – but most importantly honest – image. That’s just how she rolls and I will forever be in awe of her for the bravery, humour and determination with which she has faced some seriously shitty news.