The first time I’d met my oncologist, it was in the midst of figuring out what surgery I would be having for my mastectomy.
Naomi and I had visited Suzy on a Friday night in October. She had run through the treatment options that I could go with. I instantly knew she was one of the best.
Her approach was calming, informative and cautious. In comparison to my weekly appointments with Katy, I was only seeing Suzy once every three weeks, so the rapport between the two of us was not on the same scale.
Since chemo had started, my appointments were usually the day before my EC sessions. Every time we would meet, something would be different with my appearance. My hair had gone from shoulder length to bob to buzz cut; and each time Suzy saw me, she would compliment me on it, then the consultation would start in the professional calming manner that she operated in.
My last appointment, I couldn’t do much more with my hair, so I sat down, took off my coat and smiled.
Suzy looked at me, walked to the door and caught her previous patients and team.
“Oh my god, she’s wearing a pink unicorn onesie!”
I knew at that point I’d cracked her and we had bonded.
When you first walk down Harley Street, you immediately notice the grandeur nature of the area. After all, this is where the crème de la crème of the private medical field reside. Surgeons; fertility doctors; dentists; plastic surgeons; nutritionists; oncologists. You name it, they are here, and they are THE BEST. To say I’m lucky to be having my treatment done in this area is beyond an understatement. Thank you BUPA.
When I first walked into the LOC in October, Naomi and I were stumped at how the building itself was not like any of the hospitals we had visited before. The waiting room had gone up a level in comparison to the Breastitute. The entire room itself could house my home. We sat there with our tea in hand (in a real cup and saucer – none of that disposable cup nonsense), and waited to see Suzy. We both sat there as behaved as we could be, whispering as if we were in a library; because our surroundings forced us to.
Pink is for breast cancer
“Do you have a chemo outfit?” Erm…this is my chemo outfit (leggings and a top)
“We have some patients that come in with colourful wigs.” I see.
My second EC chemo in, and the nurse I had was already getting under my skin. I hadn’t planned or put much thought into a “chemo outfit”. I mean, to be honest, what I was wearing was not top priority for me. I just wanted to go in, have chemo, go home.
A week later, I was browsing through Instagram, and I came across Deborah James (aka Bowelbabe). Deborah was having her 20th chemo session, and just because it made sense, she decided to go to chemo in a bright orange catsuit. It was the words “yes I look like a twat, do I care – Nope” that won me over.
Deborah has stage 4 bowel cancer, where chemo is pretty much constant for her. As someone who is going through chemo, I for one, cannot wait for the day it is done. That afternoon, I ordered the onesie.
As much as I would love to claim I fit into the demographic that you usually see at the LOC, I am in fact the antithesis of the usual crowd. For obvious reasons, wearing a wig for chemo wasn’t really up my alley, and to bring a smile and fun to the whole situation, getting a pink unicorn onesie just made sense.
Now, there are so many reasons why you could not wear a onesie down Harley Street, and so many more reasons for not wearing a pink onesie, with a yellow horn and pink tail; but if there was any reason to make a sh!t situation feel less sh!t, it’s this.
The first time I walked into the waiting room, I was wearing my long parker, had a grey beanie, and it was very clear I was in pink underneath. I sat in the room, thankful that it was mostly empty, and waited to be called downstairs for treatment.
“Yes, Caroline has arrived. She’s wearing a grey beanie.” *Seriously?*
Of all the things to point out, it was my beanie? I was relieved that my idea of dressing as a unicorn had not caused too much of a fuss, but to be totally ignored for my efforts? Lame!
Once stepping into the treatment suite, it all changed. I walked out of the lift, and I had passers-by do double takes with confusion. I guess it’s not every day you see a patient dressed as a unicorn at the LOC, and certainly not with a companion in one also. Oh yes, this onesie thing has not been a solo effort, why on earth would it be?
Naomi was the first person to attend chemo with me when I was dressed up. And in true Naomi style, she upped the game by joining me, as a penguin. I didn’t expect her to do it, and the very second she told me she was dressing up, I knew exactly why we were friends!
Every chemo since then, my support group have come dressed up in onesies as animals, super heroes, country flags. They’ve been honked at on the streets, sat proudly in the waiting room amongst confused strangers while I’ve been running late, strutted in the treatment clinic to get assistance. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is. What started as an individual idea to just make chemo more tolerable, has now become a task where my friends and family are trying to better the previous weeks outfit.
So what started off as a small idea to just make chemo easier, has turned into a fun situation for all. I’ve become a bit of a reference point in the LOC these days. There’s talk of being in the LOC newsletter. There may be a possibility of getting the nurses to join me in my efforts – watch this space!. The reception staff don’t even bat an eyelid if they see me or anyone dressed up. It’s a sure fire way of knowing it’s my chemo day on that day.
So for now, if anyone is ever at the LOC, or down Harley Street, and they see a pink unicorn wandering around the halls. That would be me, going to chemo, getting further down the line of completion.
If you want entertainment, and a different spin on people sharing their “journey” through cancer, then check out Deborah James. She is my spirit animal!