Cancer, Aging, & Second-hand Sheila

Been wearing hoodies since they were sweat shirts. Photo by Tina Stevens

The picture of anti-fashion, at Chatsworth. Photo by Tina Stevens

Today’s tune is by David Bowie, and is about fashion. This blog, however, is about its dark-matter twin. Aka, “Wear whatever the hell you want. Because you’re old(er) now.”

Young lasses who are gobsmacked whenever a woman over 30 wears a short(ish) skirt, non-standard hair (1), or funky boots rather than functional court shoes don’t realise that our concept of “old” does a flip-flop (2) as we age.

In my own young and exceptionally foolish late teens and early 20s, I thought that if I made it to 30, I’d be soooo together. Later, I turned into a young and exceptionally foolish 30-year-old. What a disappointment that was.

Now I’m nearer 2 x 30, and realise I know jackdaw-shit. And yet, at times I’m more comfortable in my ageing skin than I ever was in my young one. And my idea of what’s old is creeping up toward the 80+ mark.

Having a laugh at my younger, stupider self

Having a laugh at my younger, stupider self

This blog was partly inspired by this one, posted by a friend on Facebook. But it’s also inspired by my friend Sharon, who runs the lovely  “Enchanted Way” stall on Donny Market. I popped by to see Sharon sometime between receiving the date for my breast cancer surgery, and having the actual op. Talking to Sharon always brightens my day, even more than browsing through, and purchasing, some of the lovely things she sells.

I was wearing a new-to-me light jacket in my favourite yellow, and a white and red scarf. For years I’d avoided decorative scarves, lacking the nerve carry them off. Both jacket and scarf are from Aurora, a marvelous local charity which offers free beauty & therapy treatments to people with cancer, and has a shop on Scott Lane, Doncaster.

I talked to Sharon about trying out different colours, and styles, one sale (4) and charity shop at a time. About dyeing my hair before surgery, so I’d look nice whilst under general anesthetic, wearing one of the NHS’s lovely hospital gowns.

About my fear that I wouldn’t survive surgery, or general anesthetic.

I think you will survive, said Sharon. Because you’re talking about dyeing your hair, and overhauling your wardrobe.

It’s only taken me 57 years, to think that it’s ok  for me to wear a yellow jacket, and a red-and-white scarf, with one of my favourite Doctor Who t-shirts, walking trousers, and boots.

Twilight has its own delights.

Twilight has its own delights.Aurora

I should have done it years ago. But I didn’t. One of the goals of the rest of my life is to stop plaguing myself with shoulds, and musts.

I’ve earned the right to wear yellow. To dye my hair teal if I wish (I don’t). To grow it despite my mother’s belief that older women with long hair “look haggard”.

The right, to borrow a phrase from author Tom Cox, to go “full jackdaw”.

I don't wear a cloak every day, but when I do, it's usually Halloween.

You can’t go much fuller jackdaw than a shiny green cloak.

(1) eg, teal, purple, or even long.
(2) In the sense of a somersault, and not the footwear known as flip-flops in Britain, and thongs (3) in the States
(3) Yes, I am aware what a “thong” is in Britain. You can stop sniggering now.
(4) Thank you, BHS. I do hope you survive.

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About Sheila North

I am an author and ex-journalist, who has written novels, short stories, and poems. I also help facilitate a writers' group. Check me out on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sheila-North/
This entry was posted in Cancer, Labels, Nostalgia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Cancer, Aging, & Second-hand Sheila

  1. Nimue Brown says:

    I’m never sure about colours, in terms of how to put them together, but I worry less about it than I used to, and everything goes with black anyway! I think longer hair on older women is massively cool, and a bit witchy, and definitely good, and also a whole lot of yes to that 🙂

  2. I too am going through something similar. I have Stage IV cancer and right now I’m quite concerned with what I am wearing (when I’m not too sick to get out of bed). I just wrote a long post about it on Instagram (because my blog has been compromised and I’m not sure how to fix it. Anyway, for the longest time my “style” could best be described as “postpartum” and I have decided that is not the legacy I want to leave behind for my daughters. So even though my hair is only growing in now from chemo I’m still trying to pull off something better than a style that screams “cancer patient” and I’m trying not to worry about what goes or doesn’t go with my grey hair which I’m still on the fence about colouring (currently it is too short to colour). I do miss my old hair though which may be extreme vanity since I should just be happy to be alive but I think it is okay to be happy to be alive and want good hair.

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