Friday, 18 October 2013

A yellow dress for Frocktober

I am delighted to be linking up with my friend Kylie for Frocktober, a month's worth of delicious dresses and fundraising to support research into the treatment of ovarian cancer.

Kylie is a modest soul, and despite looking like an utterly stunning supermodel, she doesn't much care for having her photo taken.

So she put the call out to friends and followers for help with guest posts, and I was happy to oblige (here).

Before I started my blog, I was uncomfortable about having my photo taken too. What a difference a couple of years makes...

As I have already mentioned, one of my very best friends died of ovarian cancer.

I wanted to wear something of a showstopper in Carol's honour, something beautiful, with colour and drama.
I wanted to link past and present, old and new friends, so this dress is perfect.

It's a 1970s chiffon delight of a maxi dress which my gorgeous friend Vix sent me for my birthday.

I feel like a dreamy, just a little bit steamy 1970s Cadbury's Flake girl in it.

1970s maxi dress and heart ring - gifts from Vix
Most jewellery - charity shopped
Orange flower - gift from Melanie
Shoes and pink flower - retail

I am not impressed by the media's narrative around cancer, in which those who experience the disease are described as bravely fighting a battle. This article, written by someone who has been treated for cancer, articulates views which I share.

Do I think Carol was brave? 
I have no idea.

She was extremely distressed and scared by her diagnosis, she underwent treatment and experienced great pain and misery. The treatment failed. She died just 10 short weeks after diagnosis. It was a devastating and deadly episode of illness, without a happy ending. No amount of positive thinking, bravery, or belief could prevent the outcome. I held her hand one day in hospital, and told her that I didn't want to lose her, to which she replied I don't want to be lost. Neither of us got our wish.

Please know that it is absolutely not my intention to deny that those dealing with cancer - or any other potentially life-limiting illness - can be immensely stoical, optimistic and gracious in the face of a dreadful disease and tough treatment. I have witnessed this at first hand too.

I am just tired of the cliched assumption that all those who experience cancer approach it bravely and nobly as a battle to be won, if they just try hard and show some fight. What does this say about those who die? That they didn't try hard enough?
 I think it's a narrative aimed at placating and protecting we onlookers from the harsh realities of serious illness. It does a disservice to those who have no choice but to deal with whatever the disease, and the treatment, throws at them, in whatever way they can.

 Science, medicine, research.
Improving detection and treatment.
This is a campaign I can support, and by contributing even a small sum, I feel that I am doing something constructive for the Carols of the future.

I wonder what Carol would have thought of my blog? I think she would have rolled her eyes and laughed at my ridiculousness, but applauded my efforts. 

That's what we do for our friends, isn't it? Stand alongside them, cheer them on, laugh and listen and talk and empathise, share the good stuff, offer as much support as possible through the shitty bits.

Blogging's a forum for that too.

So please, if you can contribute to Kylie's fundraising, she and I would love it.
Consider it an investment in your health, your future, your friends. 

 Have a wonderful weekend.



Anonymous said...

Ooh what a pretty dress, not so much a meringue as a syllabub :)

Totally agree with you about the bravery factor.

Anonymous said...

FIRST! HAH! Not bad for my first comment on your blog (I tried to leave one the other day but Blogger was being stroppy)

Vintage Bird Girl said...

What a beautiful post Curtise. You look all floaty & dreamy in that lemon frock, & I love the accessories. But your words resonated strongly with me. Cancer sucks arse, & often there is no nice outcome. Watching a loved one fade away is heartbreaking. But here's to further research & better treatments & greater odds of survival. Much love. Xx

Patti said...

It's wonderful to see the reference to Dana Jennings' article! I read all his columns about prostate cancer and find them so moving and real. My dad died of cancer and chose not to "fight" it - he was still brave and kind and all the other good things.
My brother-in-law, much younger than my dad, did go through all the surgeries, chemos, radiations and experimental treatments, and died at age 59. He was not a "failure" b/c he died, the cancer overwhelmed him.
Thank you for this post, and btw, how gorgeous are you in your yellow gown! xoxo

Ulla-Marie said...

That dress!

Ulla-Marie said...

And one mor: !

Asparagus Pea said...

I agree completely. You've inspired me to write a post about my aunty who died aged 49 (same age as me now). Her time from diagnosis to death was brutally short - weeks, not months or years. Just swept away from us.
Great frock BTW

thorne garnet said...

When I was ill I told everybody not the use the words "victim" or "survivor" around me. I was sick, not a victim. I don't really like to talk about it because some people get all misty eyed and treat me different. Maybe one day I'll do a post about it.

On to better look like a garden goddess in that dress

Krista said...

Now I'm a crying mess at it's not even 7am! Let's just start by saying my god this dress on you, your a real ethereal beauty and I just adore it on you! Vix has the eye for sure.

Thank you from the bottom of my breaking heart for this post Curtise. I am currently watching my Dad get the absolute shit kicked out of him by cancer, it brings out so many emotions but hope well it's just not there for me. I don't think this is a battle he can win and I think the fact he gets up everyday still shows he is tough on the outside but I have no idea what he is really feeling. We are also having a memorial for Chris's aunt tomorrow she left behind two boys who are struggling with a huge loss. Fuck cancer, I fucking hate it! What helps me deal is all of you, with your similar stories of loss and life experience, that helps me get through the day. We might all be alone in this world but here I feel it less.

Carol would be laughing at this post but deep down inside it would make her feel still very much loved and alive.


Peaches McGinty said...

cancer is brutal, it's horrible and it's a destroyer, I really fucking hate it, and yes to raising money, I donate monthly because we have to have more research/care/support- *deep breath*
you are a vision in your chiffon floaty dress, it is perfect and steamy 'Flake' worthy, I'm lovin' the poses! I seem to have 3 but I'm working hard to increase my pose portfolio! Carol would love your blog, its fecking brilliant x x have a lovely weekend x x

Vix said...

Bloody hell, that dress looks even more beautiful on you than I imagined. You need to get out with an easel and a flake and get caught in the rain.
Carol would be proud of you, her memory lives on and we all feel touched by her having got to know and love her through you.
Anyone whose life hasn't been touched by cancer is a very rare beast.
I'd write something more profound but I've been in Wetherspoons drinking Gin since lunchtime!
Love you! xxxx

Helga said...

You are totally EXQUISITE in that ethereal frock of divoonity!
And what a dazzling are such a great writer, and I am truly touched by this wonderful post. And agree heartily about the brave battle stuff.
You are a GODDESS.

The Small Fabric Of My Life said...

What a fabulous cause.
It was three years ago yesterday since my dad died. Of cancer.
I echo your thoughts.
Even Lance Armstrong has spoken about how it is just pure luck whether you survive or not.
However, the more we find out about the disease the closer we get to a cure and fundraising is the best way forward for that.
You look fabulous in that dress.
Vix has great taste.

Max said...

You look absolutly lovely in that tremendous frock. Its such a beautiful colour. I whole heartedly agree with you crticism of the cancer-fighting cliche. Everyone expieriences it differently; my grandmother slowly faded, tortured: my uncle (at 42) suddenly, on an adventure, serene after chosing to ignore it other than taking treatments. You articulated it really well x

Unknown said...

The dress is exquisite and you deeply touched me - Life is the shits sometimes - Cancer is the shits!
I was scared to death when the docs they told me i had pre-cancerous cells - I know a tiny, tiny bit how it feels, but never like your friend


Linda said...

The dress is stunning! I love Kylie's fundraising Frocktober and I'm sure your friend would have been very proud of your blog and using it to remember her and help raise funds xxx

Melanie said...

I enjoyed your piece here Curtise. I suppose if we can't attribute some type of heroism to suffering it just makes the situation look rather bleak and mortal, as you said. You look ethereal in this beautiful chiffon dress, as Vix knew you would. I like the B&W best.

Fiona said...

You look gorgeous darling, only the crumbliest flakiest chocolate meets Margot Leadbetter. You are so right about the media and that tired old cliche they trot out relentlessy about cancer sufferers. Mum HATED it, she didn't battle with it, chemo was inneffective and drugs which just knocked it back temporarily made her worse than ever. She asked for honesty and was aware of her terminal diagnosis which she lived with for a year with dignity, with bravery, misery, depression and pain. Like Vix I've been up the pub since work so slightly worse for wear or I could go on. Great post and comments, will get around to Kylie. xxxxxxx

Loo xx from Jumbles and Pompoms said...

Brilliantly and eloquently put, Curtise. Beautiful frock. Xx

Angels have Red Hair said...

This dress is my all time favourite of yours ... It's GORGEOUS!!!
Maybe saying they are fighting the battle bravely is more for our benefit than the sufferers. It makes us feel better to believe they are facing it with bravery ... because the alternative ... that they are terrified ... is just too horrid to face.

Trees said...

Beautiful frock and I applaud your efforts to raise funds. I do also understand your comments about being "brave" in the face of disease. People just do what they have to do in difficult situations.

The Goodwill Fangirl said...

You're a showstopper in all of your posts, but I have to admit, you wearing this dress takes my breath away.

My hubby is a kidney cancer survivor, and he's not too fond of the "hard battle fought" metaphor either. Sometimes I think about sharing some of the awful experiences we've had on the bone marrow transplant unit, and then I think that no one wants to hear about that part, so I don't. So you are right on the money.

Carol would have loved your blog, because she loved you.

joyatri said...

You can write the most hilarious posts and also the most profound. That's quite a range.
That yellow dress is a lovely tribute to your friend Carol.
I was 'cut open,' 'poisoned' and 'burned' as a way to rid my body of cancer, but I never felt I was in a battle. I just felt that I was doing what I had to do. I, too, read all of Dana Jennings' blog and was grateful that there was such an eloquent 'spokesperson' for those of us who've had cancer.

Camelia Crinoline said...

You look beautiful in your frock in honour of your friend. I dislike the way the media and campaigners talk about cancer too. It suggests that those that die didn't fight hard enough which is really offensive. I watched a great documentary recently critiquing the way breast cancer fundraiser is treated as an industry with very little of the money that is raised being put into research for treatments.

Indigo Violet said...

As a cancer survivor, I can tell you that getting that diagnosis was a body blow and I found it difficult to breathe, and was literally winded. So you have no choice but to be brave, because the alternative is to be a gibbering wreck. Having said that, I am not heroic in the least.

Rachel said...

I'm so glad I have found your blog. You have got fabulous style and look so elegant. I'm still camera shy and hide behind my sunnies! :-)

Rachel said...

What a knockout dress. Vix is a master! The artistic composition of your photos added to your lovely words makes such a good tribute to your friend. Thanks for making the very good point about bravery. And I also dislike the pink focus some cancer charities take xxx

mispapelicos said...

Your post is wonderful Curtise and you are wearing the best dress everrrrrrrrrrr.
You are a true fairy.

two squirrels said...

Curtise you are so very special......I have big tears rolling down my face reading this post.
You are so right, I to think the media makes battling cancer some sort of crusade will that have a good outcome if you fight it bravely. It's a killer!!! It takes people we love and leaves heartache. It turns strong, healthy, beautiful people into withering leaves........autumn comes quickly and for many winter takes them.
Your beautiful yellow dress is a perfect tribute to a friend who bought life, love and sunshine into your life.........she floats around you always.
Sending love to you always....thank you.
Love v

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

I've typed and erased here several beginning lines...uncertain that I can articulate my thoughts. I too have differing viewpoints about cancer than what is well publicized. You've spoken honestly, and with great heart here, and I appreciate that very much! Although pensive in your photos, you do look very pretty!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully eloquent post Curtise and you are absolutisation right about how the media portrays the battle against cancer.

You look stunningly floaty and beautiful very Flake lady.

Diane said...

That dress is stunning! And you wear it so well. You remind me of the women who used to present "Houseparty" back in the late 60's. Great honest post as ever - I think Carol would have loved your blog. My pal was in Sheffield Star the other day - she did the midnight walk in Endcliffe park as she is getting over Ovarian Cancer. xxxxx

Forest City Fashionista said...

Well said, love! I am uncomfortable the "War" references (Battle, victim, survivor) when it comes to disease for similar reasons as you. Some people choose not to "fight" their illness, but that doesn't mean they are any less courageous than the one who chose to keep trying different treatments til the bitter end. We all deal with illness differently, and friends and relatives that keep telling you to "fight, be strong, don't give in", don't realize that the person who is sick may be too tired and is only hanging on for them, not for themselves.

That is a beautifully floaty, sunshiny dress - perfect for celebrating the life of a dear friend.

Miss Maple said...

You made me thinking about this subject and I must admit that I've never seen it like that but now I can say: You're completely right with this thing about bravery. Sometimes bravery doesn't help. The only thing that's left is accepting fate no matter how cruel or heart-breaking it is. That's the bitter side of life.

Miss Magpie said...

My friend Vera died of ovarian cancer too. She was always grateful to the one young doctor who was completely honest with her and said she only had a few weeks. The others fudged round trying to make out that there might be hope of a bit longer with treatment etc etc when there clearly wasn't. She didn't want to die either but It meant she didn't have false hope and was able to set things in order and do what she wanted to before she died.

Tamera's Craft Palace said...

Wow Curtise--what a powerful post. and dead on. I personally am SICK TO DEATH of all the pink breast cancer merchandising. It cheapens it.

My mom is 2 years breast cancer free...and my dad had throat cancer.

And a dear friend died this week at the age of 42 from pancreatic cancer.

Cancer isn't a battle--it's a journey that is different for everyone involved. Some "fight", some don't--doesn't make anyone better than another.

silvergirl said...

I have a great friend that is in remission from ovarian cancer. She is 3 years cancer free.
It's a serious kind of cancer and can be hard to diagnose in a timely manner

The Style Crone said...

Very inspiring words, accompanied by an equally inspirational ensemble. You float off the screen in your yellow chiffon maxi.

Thank you for your thoughtful post about disease, the response to tragedy and pain, and your feelings of loss regarding your dear friend. I agree that the use of the word 'fight' is inadequate as a term to describe dealing with cancer or any other devastating illness. Your insights ring true.

Vicky Hayes said...

Just look at you floating about in that ethereal gown Curtise! Not sure if it's a practical dress for eating flakes in though - if you're anything like me you'd no sooner look at a chocolate bar and there'd be gruesome looking brown stains all over it!

You're right about the way the media writes about cancer but man has been weaving stories around death since the beginning of time in an effort to make sense of the seeming senselessness of it.

Vicky x

Sheila said...

Oh, that gown is amazing! What a lovely tribute to your friend. Sending you good vibes.

Kelly Jackson said...

What a truly beautiful and dreamy dress to wear in tribute to your friend, Curtise. And as always, you're insightfulness and honesty are impressive. The combative vernacular that surrounds many ideas and things, from drugs to terrorism to cancer, often makes me cringe (is it an American thing, mostly?). Call me cynical but I think of it as marketing, which - true - may very well enlist people to endorse/donate to whatever the cause, but which sadly may do very little justice to the reality of the experience.

Unknown said...

You have just put into words, the most PERFECT words, exactly how I have felt, but not able to describe, for years. My mother died from cancer and I have struggled with the 'bravery' label ever since.

Cancer sucks. I'm so sorry your friend died and I'm so sorry she was scared and in pain and I'm really glad you were such a great friend to her in being there with her and being honest.

You look absolutely beautiful in your tribute frock. I love it and I love you. Shut up. I do.

Sarah xxx

Señora Allnut said...

First, you look gorgeous and love your ethereal dress!
And second, I'm also supporting and encouraging many friends to have a mammogram, ultrasound scan or colonoscopy or whatever improves an early detection!, because that's the way I express my rage over cancer!. I'm not in the 'bravery' team, I prefer to support the Science!!

Unknown said...

Darling sorry for your loss. Sorry also I'm so late in telling you so. It is refreshing to hear your thoughts. We need a cure.
Over here, women's health issues are being set back half a century and we cling to hope that the bastards won't win the battle. So many of us have no health care at all and are priced out of the insurance market. We are on the verge of some improvement with the Affordable Health Care Act, but it isn't enough. Someday, we'll catch up and have universal healthcare. Perhaps then, more women will survive.
Love to all of you there.

Veshoevius said...

Very thought provoking and moving post - it must be devastating to watch a loved one suffer and die from cancer. This made me think of an article I read about breast cancer and how the language around it had changed in a way that negated peoples fear and suffering. You had to be a fighter, a survivor and nobody was allowed to wallow in very human reactions to being diagnosed with something horrible, like fear, anger, distress and mourning.
You do look wonderful in that chiffon gown! A fitting tribute to the memory of your dear friend.