A Picture of Denial.

I spoke to a friend the other day. A friend who was deeply upset, because one of his friends had left it too late to check himself out… and now has a cancer which can’t be cured. We don’t yet know how long he has. It’s heartbreaking, and more so because it could have been avoided.

In the meantime, I’ve been receiving – for two bloody years – requests to put a heart on my wall, or an eight ball as my status, or to accept the challenge of posting a black and white picture, or a no make-up selfie, to raise awareness for cancer. Well, challenge accepted. Here’s my black and white, no make-up selfie, no hair selfie, no boob selfie, and no husband selfie. Our most recent portrait together, a few weeks ahead of our fifteenth wedding anniversary. ❤️

You don’t raise awareness of cancer by putting little gimmicks on Facebook. You raise awareness of cancer by sharing links to websites which outline the signs of cancer, like this one. You raise awareness by talking about cancer, and not being frightened to tell your doctor, or your friend, or you partner, that you’ve got a lump in your boob or bollock, or that you’re pooing blood, or that you’re struggling to swallow. The earlier you catch a cancer, the easier it is to treat. It’s not going to stop growing just because you don’t want it to be there, but it might not kill you if you do something about it early enough. And guess what? The process of my husband’s death was far more undignified than any check-up or operation, and had we caught his cancer earlier, he would still be here now – healthy, happy, and bringing up his children.

I’ve had more people pummelling my boobs over the last few months than I’d ever thought would be appropriate only weeks after being widowed, but it’s been worth it, because our little boys won’t have to watch another parent die. My left breast is now dangling in formaldehyde in a lab somewhere, probably. My hair is in landfill. And my husband is ashes, in a box. We miss him every second of every day.

I hate the way I look at the moment, but I hate the way my husband looks more. He’s going to look like that for far longer than I’ll look like this. Anyway, he was always keen to make a point at any cost, so maybe, together, at our least glamorous, we could save a life.

What are you most frightened of? Looking like me? Or looking like him?

See your doctor if you’re worried. This is what denial looks like.

Love Fanny x

Fanny’s Family Portrait 2017

46 thoughts on “A Picture of Denial.

  1. Jo Saunders says:

    Fanny, you are as fantastic boob-less as I believe you would have been “normal”. Go girl, you rock and you look so cool “sans” as I reckon you did “avec”!

    • Fanny the Champion of the World says:

      Ahhh, merci bien! That’s very kind of you. I’m lucky that it will grow back eventually (well, with a little help from the surgeon.) I’m hoping they might give the other side a lift while they’re at it… I mean, SOMETHING good has to come out of this, doesn’t it? x

  2. Jaime says:

    Yòu are truly inspirational lady. You share your posts with such honesty, passion and dignity.

    You still are beautiful Fanny.. Amazing of you sharing your picture ❤ Now if this statement does not show awareness to people, I don’t know what will!! xx

  3. Lee says:

    I pray I never have to go through a fraction of what you and the boys are going through, but if I ever do, I hope I deal with it in the same way you appear to. ❤

  4. nanacathy2 says:

    And here is something more postive to think on. My husband noticed a lump on his neck 8 years ago, that’s right throat cancer. 6 months of chemo and radiotheraphy followed. It was horrendous for him, but then came the wedding of our eldest son, followed by the brith of a grandson and grand daughter, on the brink now of wedding of second son and the birth of another grandson. Life is good again. Don’t delay, check it out! You are such an amazing lass, your Mum is right to be so proud of you.

  5. calmkate says:

    what an open wise and stunning post, good for you! You look SO beautiful …
    but I have no boobs or hair either .. I found mine soon enough and took drastic action. I often threaten to go topless bathing and people think I’m joking but to me some might just go home and do a check … anything to save a life 🙂

    • Fanny the Champion of the World says:

      You’re absolutely right – go for it! I didn’t think I’d ever show my scar to anyone – especially not on the internet for all to see – but actually I think it’s such an important point that it’s worth sharing. (Weirdly, I’m almost relieved I don’t have my husband here because although he’d have loved me anyway, seeing me like this would have broken his heart.) SO pleased you’re still alive and kicking, if a little bereft of boobs. 🙂

      • calmkate says:

        lol mine were 2 kg each so I don’t miss them at all and that real flatness is a shocking reminder for others who would much prefer I rebuild .. but as I’m not breast feeding or a porn star what for .. so nice to meet you brave lady 🙂

      • calmkate says:

        the ‘story’ of your photo/post helped a young lady currently undertaking chemo, thank you so much .. hope you don’t mind if I share it verbally? The impact of your courage is profound and very empowering 😉

      • calmkate says:

        the full impact of your losses is only just sinking in for me, sorry 😦
        You live abroad, lost a husband far too young and now dealing with treatment yourself .. it’s always a roller coaster ride but without any of your familiar supports around you are doing it far tougher than most … so very glad your mother is visiting soon. Take care, you are in my prayers and thoughts 🙂

  6. Rich1008 says:

    Love the way you have written this. So sorry for your loss, but glad that you are fighting for you and your family.
    As a survivor, I often bang the drum about getting checked – I left mine, but thankfully they got it quick enough. I have my wonderful family to thank for pressing me to go to the doctors.
    Stay strong Fanny! xx

  7. Linda Duffin says:

    I bloody hate those Facebook round-robins, I’d rather donate money to cancer research than re-post them (and I have). Your point about early detection is well made and that is a brave photograph. Your mother … and others here … are right. You are beautiful.

  8. Joyce Hope says:

    Brave and very positive post. You do look like your lovely mum. Hope that’s a compliment!
    My daughter died when she was 25, not from cancer, but from a heroin addiction. I tried my best to get her to rehab, and to get her to change, but nothing worked, and sadly we lost her.
    I feel for anyone who loses someone close, but they’re always in your heart, and you make the most of the rest of your life. Good to see yours is so positive and inspiring.

    • Fanny the Champion of the World says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter, Joyce – I can only imagine how difficult that was for you, and my sincere condolences for your loss. Thank you for your kind words – it’s lovely to hear from you. I’m sure I’ll look even more like my mum when my hair grows back!

  9. SueW-Nan'sfarm says:

    I too hate those round robin Facebook posts, they have no purpose and when you’ve lost someone to cancer or if like you, are suffering, they only serve as an irritation and annoyance.

    Thank you so much for sharing this very moving post. I wish you and your family well.

  10. claywatkins says:

    Thought provoking post – yours always are – raw and honest. Thank you. I am of a certain age (55) when one realizes that I need to see the doctor more often and stay out of the direct sun…. my mom had skin cancer and has fair skin like me – that’s where I got it… your are spot on with getting checked and being vigilant and aware. But sadly, most folks don’t think it will happen to them, until it does.

    • Fanny the Champion of the World says:

      Too true… we all think we’re invincible. One of my friends has already been to get something suspicious checked out on the back of this blog post. Hopefully, she’ll be fine – but it’s always best to check, and I’m glad to hear that my husband and I (in a roundabout way) made her do it!

  11. Kiki says:

    Ellie, I had to read this and cry a lot – then I had to put it away because the lump in my heart and another one in my throat were too big to talk about those other vicious lumps. What an incredibly brave and utterly beautiful woman you are. And how much I understand your underlying anger and frustration over your husband’s negligence. I was a lucky one, I went for a small cut before it got too bad, jumped from the bandwagon, and I will never, ever allow anything and/or anyone to rule my feelings – if one feels something is wrong, it MUST be looked after.
    What surprises me is the fb effect everything seems to have on everything nowadays. I’m one of the very few who refuses flatly to join social media. I have however added the ‘pink cancer ribbon’ to my Flickr account. And Fanny, you’re so right, your boys have a right to keep their mum, at least!!!! Their mum, who is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, not only one of the bravest, most courageous woman, but also one who is with or without lumps, bumps, hair or none, an outstanding human being, beautiful, wise, funny and wild – they should be proud of you, and one day, they will (maybe in 30 years or so, don’t get your hopes too high up!).
    Wishing you buckets full of good things…. strength, stamina, love, health and heck, let’s go for it, a wild bob of newly grown hair!!!! And take a tremendously big and tender hug from me as well – you might need it!
    (Try to re-post it on the right page & thank you SO MUCH for your kind reply… Even in your turmoil you find the time and energy to thank your readers – you’re really something!!!!)

    • Fanny the Champion of the World says:

      Thank you! I’m blown away by your lovely comments (I’m just sorry I don’t always reply straight away – I tend to keep a good eye on Facebook but I can’t keep up everywhere else…!) So pleased you were able to get sorted too. The alternative is truly unbearable. xx

  12. Kiki says:

    (you don’t have to copy your reply – I HAVE IT and it’s also engraved in my heart…..!!!!)
    Funny, how the ‘Fanny’ comment wouldn’t go online; we have fibre optic since yesterday but then the land-line went off for hours on end (same today) and I think that just maybe this re-alignment might have been the reason – I had other problems too with the internet, but hey, when it works, it’s deadly fast…..!!!! Great for sending really BIG pictures!

  13. naturebackin says:

    This picture is brave, profound, beautiful and defiant. I don’t do FB so don’t see that kind of stuff, but nagging people to post photos, whatever the intention, isn’t cool. Getting medical checks in time is so important and can be life saving, but there are some cancers that are asymptomatic or hard to detect. My mum and one of my closest friends have metastasized cancer. Both have primary cancers that are difficult to detect. My friend had regular mammograms and was scrupulous about other health checks, but the type of breast cancer she has is often not picked up by mammograms, and even after symptoms developed elsewhere in her body it took months to get a diagnosis. My mum’s cancer is of the type that does not produce symptoms until it has spread. My friend has had several surgeries and is on a succession of palliative treatment modalities, and my mum being older has only had six months of palliative chemo to control symptoms. I completely agree with your message, but even though they didn’t neglect to have their check-ups, and even though their hair has grown back, for my mum and my friend, the bleakness is stark.

    • Fanny the Champion of the World says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your mum and friend – it’s very true that not every cancer is easily detectable (mine wasn’t either – it was thought to be much smaller than it actually was) but anything we can do to raise awareness is undoubtedly a good thing. I really hope your mum and friend are comfortable and feeling well, at the very least. It’s a tough road to walk but I’m glad they have you with them. xx

      • naturebackin says:

        I absolutely agree that it is very important to raise awareness. My concern is the tendency for some to unthinkingly “blame” people who do get cancer for somehow bringing it on themselves. Thanks for your kind wishes. The road for each of them is indeed tough. With very best wishes to you and your family.

  14. Kiki says:

    Just re-read it again….. and marvelled at the ‘how can anybody, anybody go through all this, and come out so serene and matter-of-fact AND beautiful. I only wish I could send this to everybody in my surrounding who has c-troubles. Sadly, they mostly speak (Swiss)German and not English, or French, or don’t want to ever read another word about anything starting with ‘c’!!! Love, again and again….

    • Fanny the Champion of the World says:

      Thank you Kiki… I’m so sorry, I’ve missed lots of comments and messages (I tend to use Facebook more than WordPress) but your support over the last few months has been wonderful. Thank you – and I totally understand that not everyone wants to think about cancer again once they’ve gone through it. I’m not sure I do, really! xx

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