Fashion and Its Healing Power

 

There are those who think fashion is frivolous or silly, but I know better. Only a couple of people on Ricochet know this, but I was sick last year. On May 20, 2016, my friend and neighbor threw me into the car and rushed me to the ER when I had a severe attack of abdominal pain. She knew I’d been having these for months because I’d missed parties and dinners, and this time she said, “Okay that’s it! We’re going to the ER.” I made her wait while I took a bath, washed my hair, shaved my legs, dried my hair, and put on makeup and an outfit. My reasoning was that if I showed up looking the way I was, they wouldn’t even try to save me.

When I got to the ER, they did a CT scan. A doctor came into the room and said, “We found a mass in your abdomen. You have cancer. We’re operating right now.” I barely had time to absorb this dire diagnosis because they knocked me out. Lucky for him, because I was about to give him a piece of my mind on the topic of bedside manner. I mean he wasn’t exactly DocJay.

He later told me that when I’d arrived at the ER, I was about six hours from death. My friend saved my life. And I had made her wait an hour while I took a bath, did my hair and makeup, and selected a chic outfit. No wonder they call vanity a Deadly Sin. But I couldn’t help it! One of my favorite quotes from a famous style icon and former editor of Vogue was running through my mind:

“I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity.” — Diana Vreeland

Thanks a lot, Diana! That’s the last time I listen to you.

But on to the healing power of fashion. I went through chemo from July 1 till the end of January. It was a mild course for lucky patients like me who are curable. The mass was contained, and they got it all plus 21 lymph nodes. The chemo was just to be on the safe side. I didn’t even go bald or throw up. I didn’t feel good though. It was pretty awful, but it could have been worse.

My last treatment was January 25. The week before it, I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and realized that I Iooked dreadful. My skin had aged 10 years since July, and there were little red blotches on my face. I couldn’t believe it. The doctor said, Well you were being poisoned for six months. She said I’d go back to normal. At the beginning they told me that, while I wouldn’t go bald, my hair would get thinner, and it did. And here I was at the end of it, alive but with a blotchy face and much thinner hair, looking like the Wrath of God. So what did I do? I accessorized.

I was determined to at least feel pretty even if I didn’t look it. Even though I work from home and some days never see another human, I got up each morning and put on something cute. And bracelets and a necklace. And perfume (Calèche by Hermès). I slick my hair back into a ponytail. I do this every day, and now that a few months have gone by, I’m starting to look normal again.

*An aside: Boss Mongo directed me to the Etsy shop of a family friend, and I bought some chokers from her. Her stuff is so cute! I wear them every day. Thanks, Boss! You didn’t even know why this was so important to me. Here’s a link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LooshandCo?

Even when I didn’t look like I wanted to look yet, fashion and style made me feel better about everything. Frivolous and silly? Maybe. But during that awful time, I know it contributed to my recovery. Somehow I know that if I’d spent the last few months in sweatpants, I’d still be that blotchy person looking back at me in the bathroom mirror that day in January.

I had my last CT scan on February 20, and was declared cancer-free. You guys never knew it, but you saw me through one of the worst times of my life. Logging in here every day and laughing and reading all of you, it was almost as healing as clothes. Don’t get all cocky, I said almost.


And now for a few of my favorite fashion quotes:

“Your dresses should be tight enough to show you’re a woman and loose enough to show you’re a lady.” — Edith Head

“People will stare. Make it worth their while.” — Harry Winston

“Trendy is the last stage before tacky.” — Karl Lagerfeld


@docjay @bossmongo

Published in Humor
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  1. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    oooh …. la ….. la!!

    • #1
  2. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    RightAngles: He later told me that when I’d arrived at the ER, I was about 6 hours from death. My friend saved my life. And I had made her wait an hour while I took a bath, did my hair and makeup, and selected a chic outfit.

    All we ask in the ER is that you have reasonably clean underwear.

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I’m glad that you are better. Take care of yourself.

    • #3
  4. PHenry Member
    PHenry
    @PHenry

    RightAngles: He later told me that when I’d arrived at the ER, I was about 6 hours from death. My friend saved my life. And I had made her wait an hour while I took a bath, did my hair and makeup, and selected a chic outfit.

    That is a true friend.  I can so relate to what you did, I also always find an excuse why whatever is wrong with me isn’t serious enough for medical attention.  Never had it turn out as serious as yours, but it has come back to bite me.

    Everyone, please!  Go see a doctor when you know something isn’t ‘right’.   I’m making an appointment right away, for a checkup.  I  have been putting it off for too long.  Thanks, RightAngles, for reminding me to be sensible about my health!

    • #4
  5. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    @MLH

    A new lipstick always makes a nice little pickmeup! I guess  I actually should finish reading Ms. Head’s How to Dress for Success.

    Thank your friend for us — good to have you here!

    • #5
  6. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Kozak (View Comment):

    RightAngles: He later told me that when I’d arrived at the ER, I was about 6 hours from death. My friend saved my life. And I had made her wait an hour while I took a bath, did my hair and makeup, and selected a chic outfit.

    All we ask in the ER is that you have reasonably clean underwear.

    Ha! When I was 28, my sister took me to the ER once (I had just returned from abroad and it turned out I had a tropical disease). The ER doc was about my age, and he kept going on and on about how clean I was (yep, I did the same thing that time re the bath and grooming). I finally said to him, “Good grief! I hate to imagine what you’re used to seeing if it’s so remarkable to you that a person is clean,” and he said  “You don’t want to know.” Then he asked me out.

    • #6
  7. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    PHenry (View Comment):

    RightAngles: He later told me that when I’d arrived at the ER, I was about 6 hours from death. My friend saved my life. And I had made her wait an hour while I took a bath, did my hair and makeup, and selected a chic outfit.

    That is a true friend. I can so relate to what you did, I also always find an excuse why whatever is wrong with me isn’t serious enough for medical attention. Never had it turn out as serious as yours, but it has come back to bite me.

    Everyone, please! Go see a doctor when you know something isn’t ‘right’. I’m making an appointment right away, for a checkup. I have been putting it off for too long. Thanks, RightAngles, for reminding me to be sensible about my health!

    I’m happy if I can serve as a warning to others! I ignored these attacks for a very long time. I’d been having them since late summer 2015. I kept thinking it was stress or something. Every time I think there was cancer growing inside me for that long and I didn’t die, I can’t believe it.

    • #7
  8. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    For you.   I’m glad you’re still with us.

     

    • #8
  9. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    It is wonderful that you are recovered!

    Mrs. iWe is always elegant and put-together, and for years I never understood it: she is gorgeous anyway. And then I came to understand that to a man, clothes are primarily functional. I can dress anyway I like, and it does not change the way I see myself. But a woman sees herself in the mirror and sees a reflection of her soul – so the way she dresses is in fact a form of self-awareness.

    So I get it now. And I appreciate every woman who values herself by taking the time to be presentable.

     

    • #9
  10. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Zafar (View Comment):
    For you. I’m glad you’re still with us.

    OMG The Ab Fab lady! I actually used her hair as the inspiration for my illustration above! Thank you, Zafar.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Sheesh, RA. I’m glad you’re still with us! I can’t imagine Ricochet without you! Besides, I certainly wouldn’t bring a fashion sense to the site–that’s your job! Thanks for letting us share in this experience, even if it’s after the fact. Take good care.

    • #11
  12. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    iWe (View Comment):
    It is wonderful that you are recovered!

    Mrs. iWe is always elegant and put-together, and for years I never understood it: she is gorgeous anyway. And then I came to understand that to a man, clothes are primarily functional. I can dress anyway I like, and it does not change the way I see myself. But a woman sees herself in the mirror and sees a reflection of her soul – so the way she dresses is in fact a form of self-awareness.

    So I get it now. And I appreciate every woman who values herself by taking the time to be presentable.

    Thank you! Mrs. IWe is lucky. You’re a keeper.

    • #12
  13. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Sheesh, RA. I’m glad you’re still with us! I can’t imagine Ricochet without you! Besides, I certainly wouldn’t bring a fashion sense to the site–that’s your job! Thanks for letting us share in this experience, even if it’s after the fact. Take good care.

    Thanks, Susan, and in case I don’t say it often enough, I can’t imagine Ricochet without you either.

    • #13
  14. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    PHenry (View Comment):

    RightAngles: He later told me that when I’d arrived at the ER, I was about 6 hours from death. My friend saved my life. And I had made her wait an hour while I took a bath, did my hair and makeup, and selected a chic outfit.

    That is a true friend. I can so relate to what you did, I also always find an excuse why whatever is wrong with me isn’t serious enough for medical attention. Never had it turn out as serious as yours, but it has come back to bite me.

    Everyone, please! Go see a doctor when you know something isn’t ‘right’. I’m making an appointment right away, for a checkup. I have been putting it off for too long. Thanks, RightAngles, for reminding me to be sensible about my health!

    I’m happy if I can serve as a warning to others! I ignored these attacks for a very long time. I’d been having them since late summer 2015. I kept thinking it was stress or something. Every time I think there was cancer growing inside me for that long and I didn’t die, I can’t believe it.

    God obviously has a great deal more of living, and making this world (especially your little corner of it) a much better place, in store for you RA!

    And more Doctors who will ask you out!

    • #14
  15. Judithann Campbell Member
    Judithann Campbell
    @

    So glad that you are ok, Right Angles-many thanks to the friend who saved you!

    • #15
  16. She Member
    She
    @She

    Oh, my goodness.  Thanks for sharing this frightening but ultimately inspiring story.  Sorry you went through that, relieved it was caught in time, echoing all those who’re glad you’re still with us, and hope you will remain so for a very long time.

    (Your story does remind me a bit of the time my mother went into labor with my little brother.  It was about 2AM, and Dad started to dance around in a panic, shouting “Get in the car, we’ve got to get to the hospital!” (Don’t know why he was so worked up; he and Mum had been through this twice before, once under very primitive circumstances in West Africa).

    Anyway, at about the third iteration of “Get in the car!” my mother said, “I’m not going anywhere until I’ve had a bath and got myself clean.”  And she had a nice, long, luxurious bubble bath.

    I thought Dad was going to have kittens himself before they got out the door.)

    • #16
  17. Kay of MT Inactive
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    I love, love, love your post and so glad you are still with us. Will have to think about getting gussied up everyday, as some days I’m just grateful I have the energy to get out of bed. Before getting up this morning I was fiddling with my new iPhone and actually found Ricochet, and your post the first thing up. So my grandson has already set the login, or I wouldn’t have been able to read the member feed.

    So grateful this morning with friends who encourage me to remember I am still a woman, albeit along in years, a grandson who tries to make new technology understandable and enjoyable for me, friends like MLH to encourage me to attempt to keep my body healthy. And DocJay who has kept pain at bay for 3 or 4 years now.

    • #17
  18. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    For you. I’m glad you’re still with us.

    OMG The Ab Fab lady! I actually used her hair as the inspiration for my illustration above! Thank you, Zafar.

    Of course it’s Pats.  What was I thinking?

    • #18
  19. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Even when talking about something like cancer you can make us smile. Well done . . . and good job on that whole not dying thing too.

    • #19
  20. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Gosh Right Angles! God bless you! Wow – all kidding aside that was a shocker and I am glad you are in recovery. I am hearing too much of this lately.

    • #20
  21. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    I can’t believe you were going through all this while making us laugh so much!

    But you’re so right about trying to look nice. I tend toward being slobby when I don’t have to go any where – it’s even worse since I retired. So I’ve made an effort to put on nice slacks and blouse every day, and it actually makes me feel better.

    I’m sooooo glad you’re here still here!

    • #21
  22. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    You made me laugh OUT LOUD, @RightAngles! (Spelled it “Right Angels,” which I do every time. Used to think it was dyslexia, now I think I’m just accurate). I am so glad you are still here, lipstick or no lipstick and please tell me you are collecting your pieces into a book?!?!? I have about nine people, off the top of my head, that I want to share that story with.

    • #22
  23. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    I have no favorites here on R, but you are close.

    So I have to ask the eschatological question; since you thankfully delayed the meeting with our Maker, is the cancerous lump (once a part of you, albeit evil) up there, waiting patiently, for your arrival?  Or was it cast into hell to suffer everlasting pain?

    If good looks mean anything, I’m going with “pain.”

    • #23
  24. Patrick McClure Coolidge
    Patrick McClure
    @Patrickb63

    Kozak (View Comment):

    RightAngles: He later told me that when I’d arrived at the ER, I was about 6 hours from death. My friend saved my life. And I had made her wait an hour while I took a bath, did my hair and makeup, and selected a chic outfit.

    All we ask in the ER is that you have reasonably clean underwear.

    My mother put you up to this, didn’t she doc?

    • #24
  25. Patrick McClure Coolidge
    Patrick McClure
    @Patrickb63

    Kay of MT (View Comment):
    And DocJay who has kept pain at bay for 3 or 4 years

    Keeping secrets K?  I had no idea you were a friend/patient of Doc Jay.  Give us the real story, he photoshops all his pictures, doesn’t he.

    • #25
  26. Patrick McClure Coolidge
    Patrick McClure
    @Patrickb63

    RA, thanks for sharing this.  My only tsk is that if you had shared earlier we could have been praying for you.  As it is, I’ll add a prayer of thanksgiving and for strength to my candle list.

    • #26
  27. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Zafar (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    For you. I’m glad you’re still with us.

    OMG The Ab Fab lady! I actually used her hair as the inspiration for my illustration above! Thank you, Zafar.

    Of course it’s Pats. What was I thinking?

    No no no it’s ME but with her hair. haha

    • #27
  28. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    For you. I’m glad you’re still with us.

    OMG The Ab Fab lady! I actually used her hair as the inspiration for my illustration above! Thank you, Zafar.

    Of course it’s Pats. What was I thinking?

    No no no it’s ME but with her hair. haha

    The “eyes” never lie …………

    • #28
  29. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Doug Kimball (View Comment):
    I have no favorites here on R, but you are close.

    So I have to ask the eschatological question; since you thankfully delayed the meeting with our Maker, is the cancerous lump (once a part of you, albeit evil) up there, waiting patiently, for your arrival? Or was it cast into hell to suffer everlasting pain?

    If good looks mean anything, I’m going with “pain.”

    Doug, thank you for making my day, and I personally sent it to hell where it shall remain.

    • #29
  30. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Patrick McClure (View Comment):
    RA, thanks for sharing this. My only tsk is that if you had shared earlier we could have been praying for you. As it is, I’ll add a prayer of thanksgiving and for strength to my candle list.

    Thanks, Patrick. There was a point during chemo when I felt so sick all the time when I considered posting in the prayer thread. But I never did it because I can’t stand for people to feel sorry for me. (Pride has always been my biggest deadly sin. No wait, vanity is!)

    • #30
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