Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Why you? why me?

You probably don't realise this, but me and Kylie have quite a bit in common.  Yes, that Kylie.  The smiley singer-songstress and actress. The Antipodean girl-next-door turned pop princess.  Miss Minogue, who many moons ago as Neighbours' Charlene made oily boilersuits Long-Hot-Summer hot, whilst the members of Girls Aloud were still looking sweetie cute in their pink babygroes.

For example - Kylie and I were both born in 1968 - making us 41 years old.  I was born in the March and her birthday is in May.  Obviously, the years of spending so much time with Stock, Aitken and Waterman, touring the world and counting all that money has somewhat taken its toll on her looks but I think she deals with it admirably.

We are also pretty short.  Both only 5' 2" in our stockinged feet - which probably explains our shared love of a nice pair of heels.  On top of that, we spookily have five characters in our first names and seven in our second.

And ... well ... that is almost it.  She is blonde and petite ... and I am well brunette and curvy ...   For those of you who don't know me that does not mean I bear a passing resemblance to Beth Ditto, but it does mean Kylie looks good in a pair of lurid lycra gold hotpants, whilst pole-dancing, and I definitely don't.  She made Robbie Williams' champagne bottle pop ... and I, hand on heart, am pretty damn sure I wouldn't.

I have never really bonded with Kylie.  I don't dislike her - but I am not particularly fond of her (Ky if you reading this I don't want you to take this personally).  Kylie is cool - and well, a bit distant.  She is not really the sort to let her hair down at a kareoke, dancing on the table after after a couple of G&Ts.  Or accidentally serve her friends blue soup. Nor is she the kind to open her mouth and say what is on her mind before putting her brain in gear.  All of which are so typical of Bridget ... oh, and me.

Anyway, back to where I started.  There is of course one other thing that Kylie and I do have in common. We are both a "one in nine". One in nine women who have been told that we have breast cancer. And that is the thing with breast cancer. It doesn't matter where you live, what you do, what money you have, it is all totally irrelevant. The impact of the news on you and on your friends and family, your worries and your fears, the painful and lengthy treatment, the whole upheaval to your life, is exactly the same no matter who you are.  And I am pretty sure whether you are rich and famous, like Kylie, or not, like me, that during that initial horrid haze of trauma and shock everyone who is diagnosed with breast cancer says "I can't believe this is happening to me".

Kylie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 - just before her 37th birthday.  I remember I was surprised but not particularly bowled over.  As I have admitted before, I previously sympathised with such news but had no real empathy as I had no understanding or appreciation of the consequences, or what it really means. To be really truthful I probably took more notice of the surprising news coverage some years before that which revealed she was dating INXS frontman Michael Hutchence.  I think I raised an impressed eyebrow to that and said "go girl".
The press coverage after Kylie was diagnosed with breast cancer reported that she had a found a suspicious lump whilst she was showering.  I was very sceptical of this and thought that her PR machine had gone in to overdrive.  I suspected that the lump had really been found during medical examinations undertaken before her world tour but they said that she had found it because a) it was in line with her girl-next-door reputation and b) it would encourage other young women to check themselves.  I could understand why they went for the "shower story"- both to encourage public sympathy and to promote public awareness - but I didn't really believe it.

However, over the last few weeks, my lengthy internet investigations on breast cancer have proved me wrong ... a little bit.  Apparently Kylie had a mammogram before her worldwide tour - during medical checks as I had suspected - but these the results came back as fine.  However, according to reports, a couple of weeks later she found a suspicious lump and decided to have it checked .  As it turns out ... the fact she undeterred by the recent clearance was fortunate ... it was indeed a malignant lump.  And, despite her enormous fame and fortune, at the end of the day her shock, her fears and her treatment, were all similar to that of the 46,000 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in this country every year. 

In a Sky One interview, Kylie said of her diagnosis: “I felt really bad for everyone around me. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, my poor parents’. It’s like a bomb’s dropped.  Not that I intended to go anywhere but from then on I was just completely thrown into another world. It’s really hard for me to express how I felt or even the chain of events. It’s such a personal journey. (Even now, the diagnosis is) still sinking in. It’s a very steep learning curve.”  She also went on to describe the chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment she had to undergo and the depression it caused.  She said: “I don’t want to go into the doom and gloom of it but it’s hard.”

Before I had my first chemo session I went to see some very very long-standing good husband and wife friends of mine.  We sat around their dining table and discussed my diagnosis and what was to happen next.  And the husband said something along the lines of "I can't get my head around this. I just keep thinking  - why you?"

Now these same friends would probably love to tell you the Pigeon Story.  Their version would possibly be more detailed and probably much funnier, but heck it is my blog so here goes.  Last year we went on holiday to La Palmyre in France.  La Palmyre is about half way down the country, on the left handside, an hour below La Rochelle and an hour above Bordeaux.  I have been there about half a dozen times, one of my favourite places.  The campsite is set in pine tree woods, next to a blue lagoon and near long long sandy beaches.  Days are spent walking, cycling, swimming and reading.  Evenings are relaxed and informal, usually sitting in the late evening sun, food cooked on the barbeque and washed down with a couple of bottles of red.

On this particular evening, as was customary, we had set up a long banquet table to accommodate all twelve of us.  We were having pork chops and vegetables - I sat down and thought how yummy it looked.  However ... just as I picked up my cutlery .... just as I was about to tuck in ... something hit me.  Literally.  A big fat pigeon had done a big fat poo on me.  And my food. And in my glass of wine.  Everyone gasped.  Held their breath.  Nobody dare laugh ... well at least until I went inside to change.  By the time I returned to the table the splattered plate and glass had been whipped away and been replaced with new.  So I sat down and decided that I wouldn't let it spoil my evening.  The meal was as I nice as anticipated and I really enjoyed it.  Which was just as well .... because ... as I put my cutlery down ... with a lovely sigh of satisfaction ... it happened again.  Another big fat pigeon poo.  Except this time it was full blown right on top of my head.  This time there was gasps - but no stifled laughs - everyone was just totally shocked and horrified. I stood up, and, predictably, I cried.  "Why me?" I wailed.  "Why me?!  There are twelve us of sat around this table and I have been hit by pigeon poo - not once but twice!!"  I went back inside - again - this time I had to shower before changing my clothes once more.  I returned to the table.  Somebody had ensured the pigeon was no longer on the branch but I changed seats anyway.  I was still pretty cheesed off and everyone was trying to cheer me up a bit.  "One day you will laugh about this".  "To be pooed on is good luck.  Twice must be really good luck".

Eighteen months on I can now laugh about it.  In the grand scheme of things incidents like that are really not that significant.  However, I am not sure who I need to ask, but I would now like to claim on my double pigeon poo luck, if that is OK. As I said before, until six or so weeks ago life was ticking along just nicely.  Great job, nice holidays, my new little non-Noddy car etc.  But I can't really think of anything that has happened which I would describe as "lucky".  I certainly haven't won the lottery ... and am not aware of any near misses with a double-decker bus.  So if I could call on that pigeon poo luck at this time, just to get me through these next few months, lick this breast cancer thing, just as Kylie has, and let me go back to my ticking-along-nicely life, that would be just grand.

Anyway, I gotta dash as I have a diary commitment. You see that's the other thing about Kylie which I haven't yet touched on - she can sing - and I certainly can't.  But that is precisely why they have asked me to return once again and be the singing voiceover for the latest Bridget Jones film.  Today we are doing Bridget's hen night.  She is at an 80's kareoke - dancing on the table after a couple of G&Ts - and singing her heart out.

"I should be so lluucckkeeee ... llucckkeeee ... lluucckkeeee ... lluucckkeeeeeeee ..."

1 comment:

  1. Oh Paula, I have tears running down my face, some from laughing so hard at the pigeon story, and hearing you singing "lucky lucky lucky" in my head, and the rest of the tears, well you know....

    You are such a natural writer, can't wait to read the rest of your blog, will do so tonight, at work now so better crack on!

    Keep your chin up girl - we all know you can beat this bugger!


I love to hear from you ... even if it is just a 'hi'!