Breast cancer, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Hair loss, Taxotere, Women's Health

Losing My Lashes

It has been almost three months since I lost my full head of hair, so I suppose I should count myself lucky my eyebrows and lashes have lasted this long. For some reason I had barely noticed, but my lashes and brows have been falling out thick and fast for a month or so, possibly because of the Taxotere chemotherapy.

I used to curse the big bushy caterpillar brows I inherited from my Dad, but these days I’m very grateful as they’ve seen me through five rounds of chemo! My lashes are now much thinner and have gaps in between them and my brows are much, much thinner. However, the crazy Mancunian man who tried to sell me a wig three months ago told me very matter-of-factly that I would lose ALL my eyelashes and brows, so in your face Mr. Scissorhands!

I consider myself lucky that all my hair loss has been very gradual. Whereas I expected it to fall out in huge clumps after one week, it actually fell out in tiny clumps after three weeks and gradually thinned over the course of a week or so. And whereas I expected to lose my lashes and brows quickly and entirely, they have in fact just come out very gradually, one lash or brow at a time, over the course of three and a half months. I can live with that.

The first photo shows my lashes and brows as they were pre-cancer in May (back when I had head hair as well – I can barely remember what it felt like!) As you can tell by the colour of my skin in these photos, the first photo has been filtered on Instagram and I’m also wearing eyeliner as well as mascara, so it’s not exactly a fair comparison, but unfortunately I didn’t think to take ‘before’ photos sans make-up several months ago!

The second photo is me, today, without any make-up. You can’t really tell that well from the photo, but not only are my eyebrows much thinner, my eyelashes are also quite limp and weak-looking. Very ‘meh’…

Fortunately, a fellow cancer-fighting young lady suggested I buy Browzings eyebrow make-up from Benefit to fill in my brows, and I am quite pleased with the result. The only thing is I often run my fingers through my brows and am not used to having make-up there and am thus liable to smear it all over my face, so if you do see me with dark smears around my temples, please let me know.

In the below photo, I’ve conveniently left one eye sans make-up and one eye done with a bit of mascara and some Browzings, for your perusal. I’ll try and remember to do both eyes when I go out, obviously…

Here’s the finished result with both eyes done. (Still no eyeliner, sorry Beth, I’m just rubbish at it…)

There’s only one more chemo session to go and my hair will keep falling out until about 3 weeks after the last session (so roughly until Christmas) so there’s a chance I could be bald-faced by year-end. But fingers crossed the little stragglers keep hanging on so I can make a nice dark-haired comeback in 2013!

Disclaimer: Before we start with the usual argument, I’m just going to put it out there that my eyes are green, not blue. Thanks 🙂

Breast cancer, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Food, Hair loss, Health, Taxotere, Wigs, Women's Health

Braving the Bald Look

After spending the previous weekend quarantined in my little hospital room and attached to a drip, it was like the best thing ever to be able to spend last Saturday and Sunday in London, relishing in the joys of freedom and 360-degree arm movement.

I had planned the trip to London for my friend Karen’s birthday lunch, but a few days earlier I was invited to take part in a mini-photo shoot for the Stylist magazine 2012 census – a form I delighted in filling in with my cat on one of my many bed-ridden sick days recovering from chemo. My photo was to appear in tiny version alongside many others in an upcoming issue of the magazine, so I decided I would go wigless for the following reasons:

a) to be a bit brave and unashamed of my bald head

b) to be 100% myself

c) to be a little bit original

I had planned to wear earrings and false eyelashes to accentuate my better features and distract from my bald head because my eyebrows and lashes are now wearing thin (more of this in a later blog post). However, I forgot to pack the fakies and, unfortunately, every single chemist and supermarket around the Holborn area was shut on Sunday morning. And so it was that my friend Sophie and I rocked up to Stylist magazine HQ false eyelash-less and au naturel.

Unfortunately, the Stylist photo booth didn’t take such flattering photos as my iPhone, I felt really self-conscious and hated the final result, but it was a great experience all the same and I’m glad Sophie came along to support me in braving the Sinead look! You’ll have to wait til the magazine comes out to see my individual photo but here are the fun shots of Sophie and I for the time being. (Apologies that it’s a photo of a photo but scanning it would require getting out of bed.)

Sunday afternoon I had a wonderful time catching up with old colleagues and friends at Karen’s birthday lunch and very much enjoyed my lamb roast at The Brownswood in Finsbury Park, before catching the train back up North and sleeping for more than 12 hours, such was my exhaustion from the weekend.

Saturday was spent mostly eating my way around London with my old housemate Beth, who almost succeeded in giving up sugar with me for two weeks, but for a few momentary lapses. Our gastronomic tour began at the Mexican restaurant Wahaca in Covent Garden, with tacos, quesadillas and Mexican soup. Unfortunately one of the things I am most craving is ceviche and sashimi but the chemotherapy means raw fish is forbidden, so I had to make do with the cooked stuff.

In the evening, for want of a better film to see, we ended up watching The Sapphires, which was amusing and entertaining, though far from being one of the best films I’ve ever seen. After two weeks on a no-sugar diet, I am still surprisingly not craving sweet things at all, but I can never resist having sweet popcorn at the cinema.  We were also offered a free dessert at Wahaca and you’d have to be a fool to turn down a free dulce de leche pancake, right?

Finally, we tried to go to Bubbledogs, the new hotdog-and-champagne place, but the queue was too long and I was too tired to wait by this point so we ended up at Roka, a Japanese restaurant on Charlotte Street that reminded us of La Huella in Uruguay, where we’d been together in February. It was a shame my rice and asparagus came 10 minutes before my seabass main course but, other than that, I couldn’t fault it and will definitely be going back to try the black cod.

I’m safely back up North now for another week of resting and a hospital visit on Thursday before THE FINAL CHEMO next week.

Breast cancer, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Cooking, Fertility, Food, Hair loss, Health, Humor, Humour, Taxotere, Women's Health

Chemo Day Two / Big Sugar Challenge – Day Five

Well, firstly I’ll start by saying congrats to Obama – I’m pretty sure my over-sized ice-foam baseball hands and feet helped him win. No need to thank me, Mr President.

So, day two of chemo and I’m not feeling too bad so far. I went for a walk to get some fresh air while I still have the use of my limbs (i.e. before the crippling joint pain sets in).

Daily Ailments:

1) My little pinkie feels like it’s been slammed in a doorframe. Unfortunately, I can’t tell whether it’s going black and about to drop off because I already have dark black sparkly nail varnish on it, so I’ll have to wait a week or so to find out whether I lose a finger or not. But what are pinkies good for, anyway? All I can think of is proper tea-drinking etiquette…

2) My face went all red and blotchy before bedtime last night. And I am having hot flushes. I am hoping it’s just an after-effect of the steroids and not – god forbid – the onset of an early menopause.

3) I am back on the daily self-injections… with no sweet treats to self-congratulate… yuck.

Great things about today:

1) My Mad Men Season Five DVD arrived in the post. Thanks, – your timing literally couldn’t be better.

2) The Daily Mail reckons a glass of wine a day can help cure breast cancer. Don’t mind if I do…

3) After ignoring me for a few days, Nurse Molly is back to do her nursing duties and is preventing me from reading magazines by sitting across the pages. Her heart’s in the right place.

The Big Sugar Challenge

DAY FIVE (Tuesday)

(Note that I got a bit ahead of myself yesterday and called it day five when it was in fact day four – needless to say, I’ve gone back and corrected it. Apols).

6am pre-breakfast: A banana and four steroids.

8:30am actual breakfast: Bacon sandwich on grain bread with grilled tomatoes and a cup of tea. (Yum, thanks Dad, the most creative sandwich maker I know. Who needs ketchup anyway?)

Hospital lunch: Tuna sandwich on brown bread with salad, a fruit salad and a cup of tea. Four more steroids and a large dose of chemo… Bleurrgh!

Snacks: A few handfuls of pistachios, assorted nuts and raisins. Two more cups of tea (or was it three?)

Dinner: Spinach and ricotta tortellini with pine nuts, tomato and basil, broccoli and a dollop of Philadelphia for good measure. A glass of sugar-free cloudy apple juice (which I had said was not allowed but Mum reeeeally wanted me to drink it before it goes off…) Another cup of tea.

Snacks: Two savoury biscuits with cheddar cheese and butter.

Notes: Woke up at 6am today wanting a Cadbury’s Creme Egg like never before. Good job it’s November.

Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Cancer, Hair loss, Health, Humor, Humour

A Candy Pink Announcement

Hi, I’m Candy Pink and I’m 30 years old. Earlier this year, I found a lump in my breast. I went straight to the doctor and was fortunate enough to have discovered the cancer before it had chance to spread anywhere else in my body. I am now half way through chemotherapy treatment and feel lucky every day that I found the cancer when I did.

October is breast cancer awareness month all over the world. If you’re reading this blog, then you are no doubt fully aware of the existence of breast cancer. But when was the last time you actually checked your breasts?

It only takes a minute, and it’s easy. You’re not just looking for a lump, but any change in appearance, a rash, discolouration, discharge or pain.

If you find anything unusual, make an appointment with your doctor straight away. In most cases it will be nothing to worry about, but ignoring it is the absolute worst thing you can do. If I had ignored my symptoms, I could have lost a lot more than just my hair.

Men: this does not just apply to your wife, sister, girlfriend or mother. Men can have breast cancer too, so check yourself out right now.

Take a look at this link on the Breast Cancer Care UK website for more information:

To see the video for this post:

Whatever you do, don’t ignore this message. Thanks!

Breast cancer, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Hair loss, Health, Humor, Humour

The Highs and the Lows

I went to the hospital this morning to test my blood count to see if I’m ready to have round three of chemo tomorrow. Unfortunately, after all it has been through, my blood is now refusing to exit my body, so it was a bit of a painful process as the nurse prodded and poked at me, wondering if it might be easier to get blood out of a stone.

Rather than make the 3-hour round trip to the hospital in Manchester just for one blood test, we then decided to make the most of the journey and go to the nearby Trafford Centre for some shopping and lunch. I purchased this rather fetching trapper hat and a new coat and gloves for the winter weather that is fast descending on us. I’m pretty sure nobody will even dare to call me ‘Chemo’ in this baby!

It was a good job we didn’t drive straight home because the nurse called back just as we were leaving the Trafford Centre and asked me to go back to the hospital. Unfortunately, my blood count was even lower than it was last time, meaning I’m unfit for chemo tomorrow. My immune system is obviously getting a battering but it’s odd because I feel perfectly well. I did have a hunch that my count wasn’t going to measure up though, as last week I started feeling a little shaky and weak in the exact same way I felt after round one.

The oncologist prescribed me some steroids, which I am to take now and in the morning before heading back to the hospital tomorrow for another test. If the steroids work, round three should go ahead. However, if it doesn’t work, I may have to switch to weekly chemo sessions instead of three-weekly ones. I know this will mean a different dosage so perhaps it won’t make me ill for quite as long, but frankly, I’d like to avoid the change of medication. The current three-week cycle plan is convenient because it gives me at least a week of relative normality before I have to go back to chemo hell again. I don’t really fancy non-stop chemo hell for the next few months…

Oh, and one of the nurses told me I won’t get a wink of sleep tonight because of the steroids. Thanks for the optimism!

Otherwise, I’m all set for chemo. I got my fingers and toenails painted on Friday at the salon (by a girl who turned out to be my best friend’s sister’s best friend – small world!). Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to have a manicure or pedicure because of the infection risk and because both include a little massage, which I also can’t have. But hey ho…

Speaking of nails, I thought I was being original when I painted my nails alternate orange and blue a month ago after the doctor told me to keep them painted to prevent them from going black from the chemo. But I was rummaging through some old photos the other day and it turns out I am two decades behind myself – I had exactly the same nails in 1996 when I was 14!

(You will see from this photo that, not only was i a natural-born trendsetter, i also had a keen interest in boys from a young age. Unfortunately, I am yet to find a suitable one…)

So, nothing else to do but cross my fingers for chemo tomorrow. It has been bucketing it down with rain for two days solid, so I’m rather looking forward to spending a week in bed.

Breast cancer, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Hair loss, Humor, Humour

Chemo and Rouge

It’s all happening in London, indeed.

So I go down to the capital to stay with my friend Danie for my final pre-chemo weekend before Round Three. It’s the usual drill – down on the first-class train with my hand gel and medical necessities in tow. This time I decide to wear Valerie from the moment I leave the house, mainly because if I put her in my bag, she’ll get all tangled, and I know it’ll be cold on the train so I need something to keep my head warm.

I get to London and everything is going well but by the time I get back to Danie’s house at 6pm after a few hours in London, I’ve been wearing the wig for a full 7 hours – the longest time yet. I have a considerable headache from the tightness of the wig by this time, so i whip Valerie off the moment we enter Danie’s place and i don my bold beanie for comfort. So, when we head out for a bite to eat and a film a couple of hours later, I think ‘what the hell’ and decide to go wigless for the night. After all, it’s a casual Saturday evening at the cinema with a friend and I’m not out to impress anyone.

Danie and I walk the ten minutes to the main street in Putney – one of the nicer boroughs of London, for those of you unfamiliar with the area. It’s getting a bit nippy and rather autumnal (fall) and we’re both dressed accordingly. (When I say we are dressed accordingly, I mean by global standards, as opposed to Northern England or Irish standards, which would often favour the wearing of a mini dress and no outer garment in temperatures of 8 degrees Celsius (46 Fahrenheit)).

Let me just explain, since it is central to the tale, that Danie is one of my many beautiful, ginger-haired friends.

As we walk down Putney’s main high street, we pass a couple of very inebriated men who are drunkenly ambling along the street. So far, so normal for a Saturday night.

So, imagine our surprise when we pass them and hear one of them shout:

“Well, if it isn’t Chemo and Rouge!”

Chemo and Rouge!!!


It takes us more than a few moments to register what we’ve just heard. Initially, I think “chemo and rouge” is a description of myself, since my coral-coloured beanie could be described as rouge (if one were slightly colour-blind). But within moments it dawns on me that “Chemo” is me and “Rouge” is my flame-haired companion.


Danie spends the rest of the evening thinking up things she wishes she had retorted, while I think of ways i would have karate-chopped them to the ground, had we both not been quite so stunned into immediate inability to react.

After the chemo and rouge incident, we walk into Wagamama and order some food. Our extremely lively young waiter is of bright ginger-haired descent and clearly more than proud of his, ahem, roots, as when I order a ginger beer (no alcohol) he beams at me and says “Ginger beer, the best sort of beer.”

We then head to the cinema across the road and bump into my friend Hannah from Bloomberg, who assures me she is an avid reader of the blog, so here’s a quick shout-out! Rouge and I watch Hope Springs, a great film, which adds up to two great films on two consecutive Saturdays – the other being Anna Karenina, since you asked.

We then walk home to Rouge’s house, discussing earlier incidents as we go. Rouge comments that Putney is usually “such a nice neighbourhood” and tells me she has never been heckled here before. Moments later, from the other side of the road, three young ruffians spot us and the bravest of the bunch shouts a series of things over to us, as we ignore them entirely, in that polite manner that is so customary to us Brits.

“Oi!” (not in the Brazilian sense)

“Looking lovely tonight, ladies!”

“Aren’t you going to say hello?”

“You look very nice,” etc etc.

Just a couple of moments later, a passing car beeps its horn at us. Well, indeed. May I just point you back to the beginning of this tale, where I noted that the temperature has taken a turn for the chillier and both of us are dressed accordingly. By this, I mean that there is not a single bit of flesh showing on either of our bodies, save for our hands and faces, and we are both wearing jeans, Converse and leather jackets (without looking like we’re from a boy band, if you know what I mean.)

Who knew evenings in Putney could be so entertaining?!

The rest of the weekend is pretty tame in comparison. Saturday lunch time, before the aforementioned incident, Rouge and I go for late brunch (more commonly known as lunch) at a trendy new place called Caravan behind King’s Cross station with Rouge’s sister, George (who is brunette, for the record). The restaurant is in an old grain store and has a very cool, New Yorky feel.

I can never resist a brunch menu, particularly since brunch doesn’t seem to exist back in Huddersfield, but everything on the menu at Caravan is unusual, to say the least. It’s one of those trendy gastro-cool menus with all manner of items that require translation to the ordinary British eye (‘satsouki sausage,’ ‘girolles,’ ‘sumac,’ etc) and unfortunately they’ve gone a bit over the top and the food doesn’t taste as good as it sounds. Nor does the service match up, and it’s a good job we’re in for a relaxed, long lunch as we end up waiting 30 minutes for the bill and similar periods of time for service.

I order the deep-fried oyster, bacon and potato omelette for want of something more appealing. It’s an interesting dish and looks quite appetising, but I have to say the omelette I cooked earlier this month was far superior. (See Pricey’s Guide to Hair Loss). The butterscotch caramel pot with salted shortbread dessert is pretty good though.

Here is a pic of me and Rouge earlier in the day at Caravan. Note the purple-haired girl in the background, who tried to get in the picture. Candy Pink would have fit in well!


Chemo and Rouge

Breast cancer, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Food, Hair loss

What The Postman Brought

Firstly, thank you to Bryan for explaining why I can’t have a massage during chemo. Apparently, the drugs go to certain places, like the lymph nodes, and they need to stay there, whereas a massage could dislodge them from where they’re meant to be. Or something like that. Makes sense. One of the nurses told me about a complimentary service at a nearby hospice where I can get a massage from specially cancer-trained people, so hopefully I can still go for that at some point.

In the last few days before chemo, there’s (thankfully) very little cancer-related news, so instead I thought I would tell you what the postman brought this week (apart from various medical bills, receipts and bank statements, which you don’t need to know about).

Parcel #1 – Delivery of my three new Bold Beanies hats in a selection of colours. I ordered these because I’ve been wearing my first one all the time at home and it needs a wash. I have also offered to model the beanies for creator Emilienne’s site because, quite frankly, I think they look much better on a real bald person than on a mannequin head! If you know anyone going through cancer who’s lost their hair, please do pass on my recommendation about these beanies. As much as I love Valerie, Brandi, Joana and friends., you just don’t realise how uncomfortable wigs are until you have to wear one for several hours!

Parcel #2 – My first Graze ‘nibblebox’. I’ve been ignoring the offers in the newspapers to get a free ‘Graze’ box for about three years now and I’m not usually lured by these sorts of ‘deals’ where you have to enter your credit card details to get the freebie. But, since nutrition is pretty darn important for me right now and I’m mostly holed up in bed at home, I thought it might be nice to receive a box of healthy-ish snacks in the post once a week. There was also the allure of having to go onto the website and ‘rate’ all the different foods on a scale of ‘Bin’ (that’s ‘Trash’ to you Americans) to ‘Send Soon’. Well, anyone who has ever spent an ounce of time with me knows that the secret to my happiness is food, so rating different snacks is up there with booking dinner in my fave restaurant.

I immediately ‘Binned’ all the yucky olives but rated everything else on the website either ‘Like,’ ‘Love’ or ‘Send Soon’. The good people at Graze then (allegedly) personally put together a balanced box full of nibbles and send them out once a week in the post. After your first free box, you can pay for the privilege of your next box for the not-especially-cheap price of £3.89, including delivery. Since I have been promised my first and fifth box entirely gratis, I thought I could just about stump up the pennies for the second, third and fourth.

The first box arrived today containing Japanese seaweed rice crackers, baked soy bites with thai sweet chili dipping sauce, orange and ginger flapjack and a mix of pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate giant buttons and cranberries. I can’t say any of this is the healthiest food in the world, but it’s probably better for me than eating a kilo of coconut M&Ms (but that’s not a dig, cousins Damian and Nick!) I ate all of the above, save for two of the flapjacks, this lunchtime and rather enjoyed myself. If any of you in the UK fancy having a free graze box ordered to your desk or home, just click here and enter the code H997J1DD (and yes, this gets me £1 off my next box too, so everyone’s a winner. Go on, you know you want to).

Well, I don’t really want my blog turning into an advertising space, so I’ll stop there for now.  I’m pretty sure the likes of Jimmy Choo and Chanel will be sending me freebies before I know it.

Cancer, Hair loss, Humor, Humour, Uncategorized

Meet My Alter Egos

You’ve had a bit of an introduction to my wig collection and many of you helped in the selection process, but I don’t think any of you have seen the full line-up, so here we go:

Valerie (Val, for short) – so named because she came from my friend Valdimir. She’s the posh one from Selfridges and goes well with my hoop earrings for a night out. She’s probably the most similar to my natural hair, though she’s a bit more 50s and has a lot more body than my own hair ever had. She also gives me the Rachel-from-Friends haircut I always wanted, even if it’s 15 years too late. Val is a sensible, classy lady who can go casual for a day’s work or play, or get dressed up for a night on the town.

Tiffany – The cheapest of the bunch, but by no means cheap. She is smooth, sleek and stylish and a little smoky. Granted, this is mostly the eau de burnt plastic from her cheap, synthetic material, but Tiffany is no plastic faker. She likes to laugh wholeheartedly, eat spicy food and is proud of her Peckham roots. She also needs a hair cut, because I can’t actually see through this super-long fringe (that’s bangs, to the American readers out there).

Samantha – She’s a classic, but she’s no plain Jane. Samantha is the shortest and darkest of the bunch and she’s a simple, wash-and-go kind of gal. She’s the girl next door and likes simple, fun, down-to-earth people. Samantha enjoys cooking more than any of the girls, largely because she doesn’t pose quite so much of a fire risk. Probably the quietest of the bunch, Samantha is shy but she’s no shrinking violet. (Just FYI, the bit in italics is an actual line from one of my school reports when I was 15 – thanks, Mr Downs, my GCSE drama teacher).

Brandi – The first of the redheads, she’s subtle but strong, with fire and flavour. She loves strong coffee and rich, flavoursome foods. Brandi, like her name, is intoxicating and will woo you with her secret charms. Deep down, she’s a family gal and loves to hang out with friends. She also loves to curl up with a good book on a cold day – her current read being Fifty Shades Darker. That might give you a bit of a clue as to her darker side, though she’s not into BDSM, so don’t go getting any ideas! (I’m talking hair dye here, obvs).

Joana – She’s a full-bodied red with a fiery temperament. Foxy and fruity, there’s never a dull moment with Jo Jo. She loves to flay her hair around like in the Timotei adverts and she’ll easily catch your eye. Joana doesn’t like to be ignored, but she’s no attention seeker. Probably the cleverest of the bunch, she’s a straight ‘A’ student who speaks several languages and loves a good conversation, but she’s no stranger to a night on the tiles with her girlfriends either.

Miss Candy Pink – Candy is a party girl who likes to let her hair down. She loves to be the centre of attention and will always be noticed. She’s a sweet girl, though, and never a diva. She’ll flut her big lashes at you and expect a smile, but she has a deep and meaningful side if you dare to look past her blinding neon exterior. There’s a lot more to Candy P than meets the eye.

The Egghead – she is liberated and free, the happiest of the bunch. She likes to go running and listen to loud dance music. She is smooth and serene and likes to smile. In the winter, Egghead likes to accessorise with hats and occasionally team up with Brandi and friends, but she loves nothing better than to let her hair down at the end of the night and relax with a nice cup of tea. The Egghead is also a tough girl, a warrior. Those who mess with her will feel her wrath.

Breast cancer, Cancer, Hair loss, Humour, Uncategorized

The (Weird/ Embarrassing) Stuff They Forget to Tell You About Cancer

Everyone loves a list. So here’s a few pearls of wisdom I’ve learnt since getting cancer, that I wish I’d known beforehand.

1. One shall have blue-dyed nipples for two months (and counting) after breast surgery. (Brings a whole new meaning to the name ‘blue tit’ – credit to the Gap Girls for this most appropriate of birthday cards!)

2. One shall lose not only one’s flowing locks, but also one’s entire mass of body hair. (On this front, I can happily say that my armpit hair seems to have stopped growing, but the trademark Pricey caterpillar brows are still holding on strong! No comments on the rest…).

3. One’s hair may grow back rather different – so I may return curly, grey or ginger in 2013!

4. One is more likely to get a little chubby than go all skeletal. This is due to a combination of the medically endorsed license to eat whatever you want, sleep as much as possible and do as little activity as possible, and the effects of drugs such as steroids. Fortunately, I have good metabolism…

Which brings me to the final point…

5. With chemotherapy comes constipation. Without wanting to go into too much detail, let’s just say one shall need to be in possession of a darn good book!