The Made for Life calendar is officially out — and you can buy it here. The funds are used to help support people with cancer by offering spa days, workshops and get-togethers that inspire wellbeing. Being in the calendar itself has been a form of support, and one that I did not expect.
I have written about feeling "like Frankenstein's monster" during my own recovery, and when I think about that and look at my calendar page (November), it underscores how much has changed. After I bought the calendar, I went through my photo archives trying to find pictures of myself after surgery. In one photo, I'm pale and wan and I am still wearing my drain under my clothes, but I've accessorised my orange fabric drain bag with a sparkly blue brooch and I have a manic grin on my face. Another is a horrific photograph of my reconstructed breast when it developed necrosis (tissue death), and a golf-ball of black tissue had to be cut out. There's no way to put a positive spin on that one.
I've been watching Facebook as fellow Mermaids and breast cancer
patients write about how they felt being in the calendar. One friend
wrote: "thanks to Made for Life and to Mark at Face Photography for
helping me to 'like' myself again." I know what she means as I look through my photos — my 'before' and 'after' shots. What I notice most in my calendar pic is the calm and self-assured expression. No desperate grin in sight.