Hannah, 36 - Full Time Mum
It was a small race, it was in London but it was my first. I just wanted the medal.
A few days after that, I just floored. I got pneumonia, I was admitted to hospital and they started digging and digging and found all sorts of strange bloodwork, it was very frightening at the time. They pumped me full of all sorts of medicines and did their magic. Six days later, I was still in hospital and they discovered I had something very rare called churg strauss, which has now been renamed EGPA. It’s like a narrowing of your blood vessels. If you can imagine your blood vessels are squeezed tight and it makes it very hard for the blood to pass through and it affects your organs that don’t get the delivery of blood that they need.
It can be different every day, I have chemotherapy every Monday now which I inject myself so I’ve got a belly full of bruises but that’s fine, no-one can see. It’s dead easy and I feel way better for it.
Cutting all my hair off was for charity for Tommy’s, who do lots of research into babies who come early, and I entered one of their races the london landmarks half marathon in March. Because I’d already recently tipped my family and friends upside for money for something else I was raising money for, I just thought I need to do something drastic... so I cut off my beloved hair. But now I love my new hair, so it’s fine! It’s fine, but at the time it was a big deal, because I’ve always had hair down to booby length. You can do lots with hair like that, well actually you can do lots with this hair too which I hadn’t realised, so yeah I went for the big snip and raised lots so that’s good.
I was scared of other people’s reactions but felt brave, but it’s very empowering. And it’s amazing for my lifestyle because I’m at the gym so much, I can wash it three times a day now and it literally takes seconds so it’s incredibly convenient. And styling it is great. This is my day to day, but I can poke it up into a Mohican and put on all my skulls and crosses and feel very edgy and cool (I’m not really that cool but I pretend).
On the pressures on young girls:
I haven’t seen it yet with my daughter, she’s six. I’m very aware that it’s going to happen soon. She gets a little bit of sass about her when she’s been with my sister’s little girl, who’s nine. Suddenly she’s all sort of concerned about how something might look whereas before she wouldn’t have been concerned about that. She just asked me last week if she could have a bikini, which doesn’t sit that well with me. I know we’re going to get one as a hand me down soon, I’m just going to have to go with the flow a bit on it. It makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, but as far as she’s concerned, it’s just a swimsuit with the tummy cut out and she can’t think why on earth she wouldn’t show her tummy, and if I make a fuss about her showing her tummy then maybe I’m making a thing of it, when it’s not a thing, it’s just a tummy.
We all walk around naked at home, all the time. She pushes all my bits of squish, she cuddles into Daddy, Daddy’s always more squishier than me .. we just try to keep it normal. I worry about her a lot because I had such a really uncomfortable relationship with my body and the way I looked for so so many years.
I don’t want that for her. But I don’t think it was caused by my parents so I don’t know what I can do to stop it. I think so much of it is going to come from school and I feel it’s beyond my control.
There are certain rules in our house - we don’t ever use the word ‘fat’, we don’t ever stand in front of the mirror and poke and prod at bits we don’t like. If Daddy’s naked and she’s looking at him in any which way, I’ll just go and give him big cuddles and I just want her to understand it’s just the outer casing, it’s our packaging, it’s so not important. It’s what inside you that is more important but it’s hard to say that without making her think more of it. It’s difficult. Six is a really difficult age as well. I think I’m going to have to take my lead from whatever comes home from school and just try and roll with it as best I can. No-one gives you a book!