The other blogs have been light hearted and somewhat flippant. The subject of this one is far more serious. It concerns a very dear friend of mine who had a battle with breast cancer a few years before my stroke and ended up with a double mastectomy. This is the story of when she lost her first breast. The first indication of her condition was when she called me whilst I was away at a conference in Edinburgh. She had just had a bath and noticed a lump on her right breast and under her right armpit. I advised she saw a doctor as soon as possible. She was referred to the hospital and was booked in for a biopsy. The results showed the worst – a particularly virulent tumour. A course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy was recommended.
She would have a session of chemotherapy that knocked her out for a week. The second week she felt reasonable and quite good for the third week. Then she would have another session and start the cycle again. I came home once to find an envelope on the doormat. In it was a lock of her beautiful hair. She had the most magnificent head of blonde hair I have ever seen on anyone – down to her bottom. When I first met her I thought she was in her late twenties. In fact she was in her early forties. This letter that made me cry. She said that if the chemotherapy did not work she could stand losing her breast to surgery but she dreaded the effects on her hair. It was her defining feature. To decrease the effects of the chemotherapy they used to give her a cap through which cold water was passed when the toxic chemicals were being fed into her with a drip feed. This was meant to reduce the loss of hair. It didn’t work. I was with her the day her hair fell out. It was literally coming out in handfuls. It was dead hair. She laid it all out in a box. Burying this part of her body was like burying her dearest friend. Her original idea was to make it into a wig, but she was told there was not enough. She decided to get a new one. She was advised by the hospital to go to a shop in Poole. The wig was not bad. But it was not good. It was hard to know what to say. It was better than being completely bald, which was the tragic effect of the chemotherapy.
I told this story to my uncle Dave who lives in Sandhurst. He had recently been talking to a chap in his local who was over from Dublin. Dave inquired why he was there and the man replied he was over to get a wig at the best shop he had ever found. I immediately booked an appointment for my friend. The evening before we were due to go we looked up their website. There is no polite way of putting it – it was dreadful. One of the models was a dead ringer for Matt Lucas from Little Britain, and that was one of the female ones! My friend was all for calling them up first thing in the morning and cancelling. I said no, that as we made the appointment then let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. She was glad we did. The place was fantastic. From the outside it looked like another residential house. Inside there were several rooms lined with shelves. On the shelves were dozens and dozens of polystyrene heads with wigs on them. The woman who helped my friend was brilliant. Obviously this is a delicate business at the best of times, but dealing with someone who had been through what my friend had needed the utmost of tact. Not only could you choose the style you wanted, but what colour. Most had a choice of six. I learnt an awful lot that day. A large part of their custom is from the cross-dressing community. The end result was stunning. A beautiful long brunette wig and a shorter stylish blonde one. When we popped over to Barcelona for an evening meal, (as you do), I booked into the hotel with a blonde and went out for a meal with a brunette. Great… two for the price of one! The guy at reception looked somewhat bemused. He had obviously thought that English men could not live up to their Latin cousins in the female stakes. If you are looking for a wig for any reason I would recommend this shop unreservedly. For more information check out their, (now thankfully updated and excellent), website: http://wigswigswigs.co.uk/