Dear me, it was, well having long hair, and I mean really, really long, to, I mean when they said I had acute myeloid leukaemia I didn’t cry. I didn’t cry, I was just more, ‘Wow.’ As soon as they said, ‘Your hair’s going to come out’, floods of tears. And my dad was like, ‘You’re kidding me. It’s going to grow back and you’re crying.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, but I’m going to look different.’ And oh yeah, oh God, did you look different. Because one day you’ve obviously got hair and then you’ll look in the mirror the very next day and there’s nothing.
And certainly I think the last thing to go was my eyebrows and my eyelashes and I just remember looking in the mirror one day and thinking, ‘God I had more eyelashes than that and more eyebrows than that.’ And I remember going like that and they were in my hand, totally, and you just feel you just don’t want anybody to see you with a bald head. And, you know, you’re going through hats, scarves, wigs, and as I said, at that time the NHS ones were woeful. And I’m only a young girl so I wanted something a bit more stylish, if you like. So my mum and my friend went up to South Ken to look round at shops. And in fact one of the nurses on the ward looking after me said to me, ‘Whenever I go out’, and she lived in London, and she said, ‘When I go clubbing in London I never go out with my normal hair.’ And she said, ‘I always wear wigs.’ And she came in one day and I just couldn’t stop laughing because she had this long blond wig on one day, she came in the next day and she had this brown one on. And she said, ‘See what looks you can create.’ She said, ‘You can be anybody you want.’ She said, ‘You can be Jennifer Aniston one day and Angelina Jolie another day.’ And that put a smile on my face. Didn’t last long though because obviously the reality is that you’re not these people and you do look different and bodily you obviously look extremely thin. I think about that time I was barely seven stone and I’m quite tall, I’m five foot six. So it was awful, and obviously extremely pale with no hair and, you know, you’ve got a partner and you think to yourself, ‘God. I must look a fright.’ But when you did put the wig on and you did put, obviously, some make up on and clothes on and everything, you could look pretty normal, but for a woman I think it’s a very shattering experience.
You do get, like everything else, you do get used to it. You do look in the mirror and it’s part of the normal life. It took time, don’t get me wrong, it did take time and obviously at first if someone would walk into the hospital or my house I’d be, ‘Quick quick quick. Where’s a hat, where’s a scarf, where’s something?’ Dump it on your head. But after a while it got to, ‘Oh can’t be bothered’, you know, and they’d see you and first of all they would walk in and they’d be, ‘[gasp]’, you know, but then again you start talking and then they realise you’re still the same person and it’s still me.
And after a while you do get used to it but the very first I’d say few months is a very, very daunting, shattering experience because, not only are you dealing with a life-threatening disease, you’re looking in the mirror and you’re looking at a different person. And you’re also bodily, facially, everything, but as I say, I had long hair and my cousin cut it off and I’ve still got it to this day. Kept it.