I first wrote this post in March, but felt the time wasn't right to post it. It's a month later now and I hope it is.
Yesterday a very special woman died. She died because her breast cancer spread and she developed secondary growths in her brain. Sadly, breast cancer can kill. Obviously the tumour in your breast cannot kill you, because you can live without your breast. But any cells that break away from that tumour, zip around your body and find a host in an organ you do need to live, that's when it becomes terminal.
Lulu was exceptional because of the way she lived her life, because of her selflessness in sharing her expertise and experience with others who suffered from the same disease. She was exceptional because she gave so willingly of her time - both personally and professionally - in providing support to so many. She was the most generous spirit I have ever known.
Lulu was also warm, fun and full of laughter. She loved all things pink and social media is full of pictures of her wearing pink wigs, shoes, tutus ...
The pinkification of breast cancer charities was something that entered my life when the breast cancer unit provided me with documentation about my upcoming treatment in a pink plastic wallet. I'm not pink and girly, but that aside, pink is girlieness personified whilst cancer is not. There's no doubting the amazing success of the marketing but I struggled with the view that it was somehow appropriate to get your boobs out in a bra to support breast cancer, when anyone who's had breast cancer has either lost one, or feels bloody grateful that they didn't.
But I soon learned to get over myself. As one of the 5-year cancer-free lucky ones, I thank my lucky stars. I am grateful for the quirk of fate that delayed my routine mammogram until I did have a lump. I am grateful to the technician who identified the teeny weeny little lump on my x-ray. I am grateful to the doctor who gave me my diagnosis and to the team who treated me. I am one lucky girl.
Lulu was not so lucky. At the cessation of her first cancer treatment, her specialist team advised her that she had a good prognosis and there was no reason to believe it would return. But it did - twice. Then it spread. She had the best treatment going (she was, after all, one of our wonderful National Health Services' own) but still it wasn't enough and we lost her.
Lulu loved all things pink; she embraced the high profile positivity. Its because of amazing people like Lulu that those of us who are uncomfortable with the pink stuff just go with the flow. We have enormous respect, admiration and affection for Lulu and the multitudes like her who choose the pink way to make the most of their lives. I will be marshalling at this year's Moonwalk. I won't be wearing a pink bra, wig, shoes or tutu - but I will be there, cheering on and supporting those who will be. After all, As John Lennon said: whatever gets you though the night ...
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