|Yes, they're tits. Made of cake. Smiley Surgeon, eat your heart out.|
On the morning of my wedding, I was a picture of calm. Despite having sobbed into the arms of my sister-in-law in a curled-up ball in front of the fire when my husband-to-be left for a pre-nuptial night of ‘taking it easy’ with his best man (yeah right), I still managed a decent night’s sleep and held it together perfectly well throughout the madness of bridal preening the following morning.
On the morning of my Super Sweet 30th party, however, I was a bloody mess. Flapping like a goldfish on a kitchen worktop, and with a year’s worth of planning (way more time than we had to arrange the wedding) suddenly coming to a climax, I just didn’t know where to put myself. Even the postman got it in the neck. With Royal Mail strikes having taken one of the raffle prizes (and much of my birthday) hostage, and me needing to drive to the hairdressers to get my barnet turned into a beehive to rival Marge Simpson, I anticipated one of those scrawly, sorry-you-were-out cards that do so little to assuage my vitriol for our national postage service, and decided to write a polite note for our local mailman.
‘Hello postie,’ it began, in as cheery a tone as I could manage with calligraphy more befitting of a hungry Hannibal Lecter. I wanted to persuade him to bend the rules just this once, and leave the parcel I was expecting in our porch rather than at the end of a long, miserable, Monday-morning queue at the local sorting office, and so I continued in what I hoped was a worthy yet effervescent manner of charm that he simply wouldn’t be able to resist. ‘What a delightful young woman,’ he’d think. ‘Of course I’ll leave her raffle prize on the doorstep. In fact, I’ll skip back to the sorting office and fetch all of her undelivered birthday cards too, and arrange a charity whip-round with the lads.’
What I suspect he translated between the lines of my chirpy missive, however, was something resembling: ‘Hello postie. The parcel addressed to me that you’re keeping AGAINST ITS WILL is intended to do good for POOR, TERRIFIED CANCER PATIENTS, you HEARTLESS BASTARD you, so why don’t you put your pay disputes to one side for a nanosecond and LEAVE IT ON THIS DOORSTEP IMMEDIATELY or I WILL KILL YOU. Love and kisses, Lisa Lynch (ground floor flat).’ Suffice to say, that’s one raffle prize that still hasn’t turned up.
I hadn’t quite realised just how much of my brain had been taken up by Super Sweet Stressing. And for so long, too. It was initially conceived mid-chemo on my sofa with my friend Busby (as anyone who read this will remember) as an end-of-twenties/return-to-normality/charity-fundraising type bash at which I could persuade my nearest and dearest to bring not presents, but instead donations for Breast Cancer Care (nothing like a complicated brief, eh?). With some surprisingly well-connected mates giving me a leg-up when sourcing auction and raffle prizes, and a guest list’s worth of family and friends seemingly keen to finally have the opportunity to do something practical in response to my Bullshit diagnosis, I set myself a fundraising target of £6,000 and went on a mission to bombard the invitees with auction-reminder emails, texts and tweets on the run-up to the bash. (Sorry about that, folks.)
And so to the night. Armed with an unusually loud frock and my homage to Marge (actually, with the beehive, the eyeliner and the pink leopard print, I fear it was more a homage to Bet Lynch), I rocked up early with a frozen grin plastered on my face that suggested more terror than thrill, and necked a G&T as soon as the bar opened. Between greeting guests and checking on the silent auction, I granted myself a couple of extended toilet breaks to go over the memorised thank-you speech I’d been reciting in the shower every morning for the last two weeks, and took my chance to give my toes a rest from the 12-centimetre-heel hell they’d been crammed into.
But, once the auctions had closed and the raffle had been drawn, and it was time to say my piece, something completely different came out of my mouth. I didn’t thank Sally and Ivan for the superb styling and the brilliant DVD of embarrassing, me-as-a-ginger-kid photos. I didn’t thank Tills and Si for creating and baking the now-legendary tit cupcakes. I didn’t thank my Mum and mate Weeza for their additional baking, nor Mike and Joss for their efforts in securing several thousand pounds’ worth of auction prizes between them. I didn’t thank Marsha and Phil for their expert DJing, nor Polly for arranging 200 helium balloons. I didn’t thank Cat and the team at The Fly, nor Hayley and the girls from Breast Cancer Care. I didn’t thank my brother Jamie and mate Johnny for their hilarious live-auction double-act (they’re the new Ant & Dec, don’tcha know). And I didn’t thank P for remaining my husband, despite having to listen to me bang on about the event for 12 months. Instead, I saw the collection of familiar faces in front of me and copped out, with a nod of ‘they know who they are’ and more nervously animated hand gestures than a weather presenter with an allergic reaction to their roll-on.
What I did remember to do, however, was thank everyone for their combined efforts in raising such a fantastic amount of money for a charity that means so much to me. On the day I was diagnosed, I had assumed I’d be told that the ‘harmless cyst’ I’d found in my boob could be removed that week. So convinced was I of this fact that, despite the lump and despite the biopsy and despite the specialist, the idea of breast cancer was still not even close to the vicinity of my radar. And so equally as terrifying and heartbreaking as the diagnosis itself was the fact that I knew naff all about it. Which was where Breast Cancer Care stepped in, with their straightforward medical info and offer of advice, all packaged in a way that I could understand it in spite of my brain having turned into scrambled egg.
And so, by getting trollied and waving their credit cards in the air, my incredible friends and family managed to raise over £7,000 for that charity in one night alone. (It’s amazing what you can do when you fill people with beer.) And when you add that to the other assorted donations submitted online (it’s here, if you fancy adding a few quid to the coffers), we’re now pushing close to the even more impressive total of £10,000 raised for Breast Cancer Care. Which, I’m sure you’ll agree, makes for a pretty bloody spectacular birthday present – not to mention a helpful contribution in the name of other unfortunate buggers who’ve found themselves clicking on Breast Cancer Care’s website for the first time this year, this month or this week.
Anyone who’s been reading this blog since it began will know that I had a list of things I wanted to achieve by the time I was 30. And thanks to The Bullshit rudely muscling in on my life, the final list looks rather different to the one I compiled as a 27 year old. I didn’t, for example, see the Northern Lights or have a baby or snog Dave Grohl. (I was hoping that, in true MTV Super Sweet style, he’d appear from behind a curtain at my party but alas, it wasn’t to be. Damn you, Grohl. You’re as bad as Royal Mail.) And as for losing a stone – well, pah. I dare say that one will still be accompanying my Grohl-snog on my Things To Do Before I’m 80 list.
But all that said, I don’t think the things that I did manage to cross off my list are any less of an achievement. For starters, I wrote a book. (Okay, I’ve nearly written a book.) And thanks to the book, I finally – drumroll please – bought the aforementioned dangerously high heels from a certain French footwear designer I’m rather fond of. And when you line up those dreams-come-true alongside my wonderful marriage and family and friendships – and, of course, my ever-improving health – the amended list somehow doesn’t look quite so tragic.
And so, what I had intended to say in my speech was this: granted, from some angles it might look like I fell into a huge pile of shit. But, when I stand back and look at the bigger picture of Things I Did Before I Was 30, I can’t help but think that I came out of that shit rather rose-scented, actually.