Go into any diagnostic clininc, oncology or radiotherapy waiting room and you’ll see a lot of sad, stressed, grey faces. There will be bald-concealing headwear ranging from the chic to the bizarre. There may be quiet crying, or forced cheerful chat. On the plus side, there may be knitting. (If I’m there.)
Apart from the headwear (and the knitting), there’s something important to notice here. It’s not just the cancer patients who look drawn and anxious and weary. It’s the people sitting next to them, holding their hands,making conversation, smiling encouragingly. Yes, a dance with cancer is a hard, hard thing. But I really think that watching someone else dance with cancer has got to be just as bad, albeit in a different way. In my selfish moments over the last nearly-two-years, I have been glad that I am the one with the cancer, because even the thought of watching my children or husband or anyone close to me go through the dance makes me ache and fear in a way I’ve never ached and feared for myself.
So I had a double thrill yesterday when I found out about Cancer Research UK’s new range of lovely pinkage. Firstly, because a pink handbag has got to be a good thing. Secondly, because this range is being modelled not by cancer survivors but by men who have watched women in their lives dance with cancer.
Like Liam Neeson.
(Who I think carries it off rather well).
Like Les Fedinand,
who lost his mother to breast cancer in 1990, and says, ‘‘Nothing can prepare you for being told your mother has breast cancer. It was a huge shock and rocked our entire family.”
Like Martin Clunes.
Martin said, “There aren’t many reasons I would agree to pose with a handbag, but following a close friend’s diagnosis with breast cancer, supporting research into the disease was enough to persuade me.”
Nice work, boys.
(The photographs were taken by renowned photographer Terry O’Neill, who is also a cancer survivor.)
Although more women are surviving breast cancer all the time, more than 45,500 will be diagnosed in the UK alone this year. That’s a lot of horrible going around. If you’d like to help out by buying a pink handbag – they cost from £4.99 to £14.99 – just click here. There’s more information about the Cancer Research UK breast cancer campaign here.