Little steps

It’s been an emotional roller coaster ride recently. I’ve had almost daily hospital appointments and meetings with my amazing medical carers. Medical treatments have been ongoing and when one treatment type stops another one starts. I’ve met some really lovely people and some horrid ones too.

Cancer is no fun, and one of the side effects of chemotherapy for me has been total hair loss, except for my eyebrows and lashes. Because of the hair loss I have worn beautiful head scarves and specially designed hats. Unfortunately this has led to a range of unexpected responses from some rather nasty people. All men.

One young man shouted at me to ‘go back to Iran!’ An elderly man gave me a withering look when I sat next to him in my doctors waiting room, then he stood up and walked to another seat, further away from me, mumbling about Muslims. These are just two examples of some shockingly bad treatment. I’ve been bumped into, glared at, and generally made to feel quite scared about going outside with my head covered.

I’m trying to remain positive, after all cancer is harsh enough. It has been quite a shock to be treated like this. I’m a white British woman and had no real experience of racial hate crime, until now. My natural hair colour is dark brown and I have dark green eyes, a few times over the last couple of years people have asked me if I speak English, and have been shocked when I’ve said yes, because I am English. On each occasion I have told the people that they have shown racial prejudice, but my latest experiences, caused by having my head covered, have been awful.

My sympathy has increased for people who face this type of abuse all the time because they wear head coverings for cultural and religious purposes. No one should be subjected to racial hatred.

Another surprise has been how difficult it is to walk with a walking stick. I’m having to use a walking stick now because old injuries to my spine and hip, have been aggravated by my cancer treatments. My difficulty with walking isn’t the coordination needed, instead its the rudeness of other people. I swear I’m not invisible, but people try to walk through me whenever I go out with my stick. It’s weird.

When will people learn to be kind to each other?

I admit that I was expecting my journey with cancer to be challenging, but I didn’t expect people to be so cruel.

Emma x


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