Stuff Cancer

I embroidered this self-cover button for a formidable lady with whom I work. She joined the school a year or so later than me. From the moment I first saw her I was curious. She always wears her hair short, but the colour changes regularly from blonde to red and back again. She laughs loud and often. Her taste in clothes is amazing – especially the floor length velvet coats. And the scarves. And the brooches. Actually, all of it is awesome. The more I get to know her, the more there is to like. Her irreverent sense of humour. A healthy but somehow respectful disregard for authority. The frankness with which she speaks of the not-so-easy birth of her boy helped me to prepare for the not-so-easy delivery of my daughter.  She calls a spade a bloody shovel. (I tend to call it a kind of diggy thing, y’know, with a long handle, sorry about that, and erm, a sort of a .. erm, sorry, a kind of , well it’s a … You get the picture.)

I watch her with the kids she teaches.  She builds them up and they visibly grow  in her presence. They find they can do things they only dreamed of. Everyone needs a teacher like this. Completely unshockable. More irrepressible that the most uncontainable Year 9 student. And unapologetic for it. There are so many things that I admire about her. And here’s one more:

Her Facebook status a few weeks ago read: Stuff Cancer.

She has breast cancer. This is rubbish news. Without wanting to be mawkish (which she really wouldn’t approve of!) it sucks that she is going through this. I don’t mean that it’s worse that she has it than if someone less awesome had it – it’s a completely crummy thing for anyone to be dealing with. And I don’t want to paint her as some sort of beatified semi-deity, calmly managing the disease as snowdrops grow in her footsteps and she smiles benignly on all around her. (Although I did see her  play a Greek goddess once, which was most suitable!)

To be honest, I have no real idea what she’s feeling like or how she’s managing it. I’m not a close friend and so I’m reluctant to ask, with the sympathetic head tilt and earnest frown that one always ends up adopting where cancer is concerned. And it’s highly unoriginal too- I don’t want to be the 50th person this week that requires a break down on her left breast. I’ve made her this button instead. She’s still exactly the same person to talk to: making us laugh in the staffroom, reminding the kids that the sky’s the limit. And by gosh, the woman has style.

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