It's my birthday tomorrow. Every year in the week(s) running up to my birthday I get a little weird. A little... nostalgic and melancholic, I think the word is. Pre-birthday blues, I like to call it. I guess it's kind of like how around new years people get super intense with writing down their resolutions, as if January 1st is going to give them the opportunity to change their lives in all the ways they hoped for year on year...
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, Β 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 LondonΒ 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.
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