Friday, 8 June 2012
What do the Queen and Kylie have in common?
I found myself thinking about two women and their lives this week. One was the Queen....well how could you not if you turned on the TV in the UK ? The other one was Kylie, seeing her in the concert as part of the Jubilee celebrations. I have to say the Queen had the same look on her face that my Mum would have listening to the concert and twitter entertained me hugely during the event. So I will say no more on the concert other than, Tom you rock! And London looked wonderful..... So why the Queen and Kylie ? Any 86 year old who coped with that schedule and has handled their role for 60 years gains my respect. And note the contrast to how older women are seen in our society and particularly our media, hidden away, patronised, ignored. Why is this? Its not the same for older men. The changes we have seen in her time as Monarch are huge but the progress in equality for women is so much slower. What about breast cancer in those 60 years? Well the incidence has increased year on year but thankfully so has survival . And the treatment is very different now. From dreadfully disfiguring radical mastectomies and cancer wards with echoes of the book by Solzhenitsyn, to situations where breast conservation is common and if mastectomy is needed reconstructive surgery can often offer some kind of compensation. We also see women diagnosed with secondary breast cancer live many years with a quality of life worth fighting for. BUT every cancer diagnosis has an impact both physical and emotional so that increasing incidence means we cannot rest in our work. Particularly it highlights the importance of prevention research like the Breakthrough Generations Study.We must understand more about the causes and risk factors to stop this disease affecting so many more people. The other change is that when the Queen was younger breast cancer was something no one spoke about. When women were asked , is there a family history, they rarely knew because the diagnosis carried such stigma and let's face it ,visceral fear. That has changed for the better, brave women in the media ,and out of it ,have opened up and told their stories to help others. But we also know that in spite of greater awareness of the condition , that doesnt mean better knowledge of signs and symptoms and people do still present late for complex reasons. So having people like Kylie, with such a huge public profile be open about her own breast cancer , does help others come forward too. Not only that she has had breast cancer but that she has come out the other side of that, looking great and back to what she does best. It takes courage to go back to work after a breast cancer diagnosis. Your confidence is shaken, your sense of self has shifted, your wellness is diminished. How much worse is that if you have a public role and a media who judge on appearances constantly? So seeing Kylie strut her stuff signals to so many that there is life after this and it does get better. A great message for women living with breast cancer. So resilience and courage are the qualities I see in them both and many many others too. It's what we do under pressure, we knuckle down and get through it. We look after our families, we return to work, we just get on with it. And let's face it without the support that the aforementioned will take for granted. That kind of resilience and courage is what keeps so many going in tough times. I wonder if indeed its those behaviours that stifle change, because in the main women just get through and ask for little. And I too am getting through....and through less hankies the week! I spoke with a friend who has a family member being treated for cancer who, like me, fills with tears whenever it's time to say goodbye. Ah yes saying goodbye, that's the fear...... But I need to remember........Reasons to be cheerful. We have had a wonderful week with my step granddaughter. We loved the pandas and Oliver and although I have had to seriously pace myself, it's been great. Here's to the next time:-) I am engaging with my inner "Lady wot lunches"next week before i head back to work and catching up with friends who have been so neglected this last year. Have a good weekend all.