Island Life Magazine Ltd December 2008/January 2009 - Page 26

life INTERVIEW Since she couldn’t work she had no money for rent. Thankfully she did learn about a charity which gives grants to young people in her situation, Clic Sergeant, which helped her financially. Hair story The most serious gap in the aftercare she received was to do with her hair. “I’m a hairdresser – and a woman – so maybe I felt it more,” she says. “I didn’t know you lose all your body hair – even the fluff on my arms and on my face. No-one talked to me about what to expect, so when my hair came out in handfuls I was devastated. I had to get my mum to shave the last two patches on my head, which you need to do because otherwise the wig doesn’t stick.” It is Lauren’s experience with wigs which has led to her initiative to set up the clinic to help people through the process of choosing and fitting a wig, and having it shaped. “I went round the shops with my mum looking for a wig,” says Lauren, “but it was hopeless – there was nowhere private for cancer patients to try them 26 on. One lady in Southampton gave me a bandana with a stick on fringe!” In the end she found a wig on the internet and when it arrived through the post she felt it was her life in a plastic bag, because she wouldn’t have left the house without it. It was not, however, the lifesaver she would have chosen. “I put it on, and it just looked hideous. You can’t wash them with ordinary shampoo because they’re not real hair, you can’t blow dry it – they’re like woolly hats on your head. But it was a good job I was a hairdresser because I actually cut it myself – I put it on my sister’s head to shape it round the face – and I wore a headband so you couldn’t see the top of my wig, where it "I just thought it would be nice if there was somewhere you could go where there was someone to help you through every stage after being diagnosed." started to lose your hair yet.” But what hit her hard was the initial reaction of her little boy. He didn’t like to see her without hair, and ran away. However, after two weeks he got used to removable hair and used to tell her to “put her hat on”. “One day my sister and I were having lunch in a pub garden – and my little boy pulled my wig off ! I was horrified and pulled it back on – but then we had a good laugh. You’ve really got to laugh!” You can almost feel Lauren’s renewed zest for life, fuelled by her determination that her experience must make a difference for others. “I feel let down. I want to make people aware that more help is needed. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t have cancer. It’s really important to check yourself, and if you find a lump, don’t just accept the doctor’s first diagnosis, keep pushing and pushing for a second opinion. If I hadn’t I probably wouldn’t be here now.” was obviously woven.” So successful was she that even at the hospital people said “so you haven’t The Island's new funky radio station www.wightfm.com