Something to Consider – A question of choice.

14-PS-Treatment-Photo Story-2

The progress of radio therapy to treat cancer of the skin and how it effected this lady’s hair and as a result became a symbol of her battle and part triumph against the disease.


This is a story about choices and perhaps a reflection on how we as a society decide on what is important. The lady in these images, who for personal reasons wishes to remain anonymous, has a rare form of skin cancer. Some time ago, due to complications, she was advised by the truly remarkable doctors and nurses caring for her to try Radio Therapy treatment. It wasn’t going to be a cure but the belief was that it could provide some significant relief from the symptoms. Weighing up the options she decided to take their advice and have the course of treatment. Despite their best wishes and hope that it wouldn’t affect her hair unfortunately soon after the final session it began to fall out.

Hair is a strange thing, not just a covering for our heads but depending on gender it can and does have a huge effect on how we see ourselves and how we are perceived by others. Despite our best intentions not to ‘judge the book by the cover’ it is incredibly difficult to see a bald woman in public and not automatically make the link to cancer, sympathy and perhaps even fear. The process of hair loss meant so much to her but proved to be an outward sign of an inner resolve to fight this “bloody awful disease’. In time her hair returned and while there as a brief respite from the cancer, its invidious nature meant a return and not remission.

There are many people in the UK suffering from the ravages of cancer that are thankfully able to get help from the NHS, unfortunately due to the many and varied commitments and pressures, the funding and resources available to doctors and patients alike falls short in so many cases. This funding is augmented in part by private and public charitable donations to the tune of around £500 Million a year, but as always the NHS needs more funding to provide not only treatment but also vital research into the treatment of all cancers.

Here is something to consider about what is important. In the last few weeks our government has commissioned a warship which cost £3Bn and given £1.1Bn to the MoD’s already sizable coffers. That £4.1 Bn could well be justified in being spent on conflict, war and aggression or it could have been spent on over nine ‘state of the art’ NHS hospitals or indeed funded UK charitable donations to cancer research for at least eight years. I guess its up to each one of us to justify what is important, but my guess is that the lady in these images would much prefer the money were spent on cancer research and treatment for her and all the other sufferers?

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