Being diagnosed with breast cancer at 29 was both the best and the worst thing that ever happened to me. I'm not saying I haven't been through the most difficult six months of my life and I'm certainly not saying it's been easy. But the whole experience has brought me closer to my family, it's made me reassess what I want from life and it has made me appreciate how lucky I am for everything I've got. And all I've lost is a bit of boob.
Here's a few reasons why the whole cancer experience hasn't been quite so bad:
1. I dared to cut my long hair super-short for the first time in my life.
And I loved it. Without cancer, I would never have known I looked so freakin' hot as a pixie.
2. I have the most delectably smooth, soft, just-been-waxed legs I've ever had in my entire life.
Yet I haven't shaved my pins for months. Who says hair loss has to be bad?
I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I get that call from Gilette Venus to ask me to model for their next smooth-legged goddess campaign...
3. I have an extraordinary wig collection, and an excuse to have a different hair do every single day.
Whether it's Sinead, Miss Candy Pink, Tiffany, Brandi, Valerie, Samantha or Joana, you'll never see me sporting the same look twice (ok, twice a week - I've only got seven looks, give me credit!)
And I even have the alter egos to match.
4. I got to take a career break.
How often do you get six months off work at 30 years old to rest and look at what you've done so far? It's a bit like a sabbatical, only with less of the travelling and studying and more of the sleeping and visiting the hospital to be poked with a massive needle.
5. I get to lie in bed until 11am, watch Loose Women over lunch in bed and change out of my pyjamas at 3pm before changing back into them at 7pm.
It's just like school summer holidays all over again.
6. The doctor says I can eat whatever I like.
Yes, that means I can consume the three half-kilo bags of Coconut M&Ms my cousin sent me from America. And the homemade chocolate fudge cake from Betty's my aunt ordered. And the enormous bag of Haribos my girlfriends brought me when I was first diagnosed.
And, what's that you say? You mean I can eat those boob-icing cupcakes my old housemate baked for me? Ah, go on then, you've twisted my arm.
(Nutritionists, please don't have a heart attack - I promise you I'm really not eating all of the above and have already started a new, healthy, no-sugar lifestyle. But a little treat every so often does me no harm, I'm sure. And my Mum still makes me eat Brussels sprouts.)
7. Cancer can bring out the positive in people, and certainly has done in me.
Just look at the incredible Kris Hallenga from Coppafeel! Diagnosed with stage IV secondary breast cancer at 23, did she decide to sit on her arse feeling sorry for herself? Did she hell! She's only gone and made herself CEO of a highly successful, celebrity-endorsed breast cancer awareness charity. She's an absolute superstar and puts most of us to shame.
8. I have the best feline nurse in the world.
I swear my cat, Molly, knows when I've had a chemo session. She curls up on my legs to keep me warm and follows me around the house. And when she thinks I'm typing too much, she hijacks my laptop and tells me to get some rest. I don't know what she'll do when I leave my parents' house and go back to work. I wonder if the office would mind me bringing her in?
9. In all my years as a financial journalist in the City, no one ever told me my writing was good.
And now, writing about something I really want to write about, I get compliments every day.
And penning this blog has been the best therapy I ever could have wished for.
10. I am alive.
And I intend to stay this way for as long as possible.
A week or so before I was diagnosed, I saw this mural in Dublin. "U ARE ALIVE - Avail of This "Once in a Lifetime" Opportunity" - these are the wise words of Maser Art, with whom I couldn't agree more. He painted the beautiful mural after the death of his cousin, Richie, and noted that we take so much for granted in life and only ever question it when faced with the prospect of losing it. I hope his mural stays up in Dublin for a long time, and serves as a reminder to all of us that this life is for living.
One thing's for sure: I firmly intend to take his advice and avail of this second chance I've been given.
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