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5 Minutes with Fizzy Snoods - Chemo, Cancer and Raising Money for Macmillan

Thursday, 16 November 2017 14:19:57 Europe/London

picture of Fizzy Snood fundraiser

Q. For those who are new to FizzySnood - can you tell us a little bit about your daily headgear challenge and the story behind it all?

In July 2014 I was told I had cancer. Triple negative breast cancer to be precise, which needless to say floored me. Once over the initial tirade of emotions that come with such a diagnosis, I was given my treatment plan, which was going to happen like this.

1. Surgery - breast conserving and full lymph clearance = ouch

2. Chemotherapy – 6 rounds over 18 week = terrifying

3. Radiotherapy – daily for 4 weeks = sounds like a breeze, but in reality not

Surgery done, chemo looming, I was wandering aimlessly around Brighton’s North Laine feeling utterly low at the prospect of losing my hair (which at that point was long, blonde – bottle version - and curly), as if in some sort of Prozac like haze, I found myself in my hairdressers. Sitting in the barber’s chair, I instructed a shocked Jason to shave off half of my hair, “give me a buzz cut”. Reluctantly he did.

Elated to have taken control, and loving my “do “– nothing like a woman in her mid 40’s rockin’ a buzzcut - I no longer felt scared (well less scared) about the looming hair loss. In my surprising new attitude, I thought, let some good come from this frankly shitty situation. That “good” came in a moment of inspiration of donning a different piece of headgear every day for a year, taking a selfie, and posting it on social media.

"Chemo Snood Head - Now Go Check Your Bits” was born!

The idea being:

1 To raise a little cash for Macmillan, who are just brilliant on all levels. Currently raised £13,500 and counting

2 To encourage my audience to check their tits #NowGoCheckYourTits

3 To give me a reason to get up every day, put some make up on (far too vain to post of make-up free selfie) and find something creative to put on my head.

To begin with it was all quite normal, a headscarf here, a lampshade there but as time and my treatment went on I let my creativity flow. Bread head on Day 15 is still a firm favourite, Radiohead on Day 138 is a classic. Philip Treacy lending me one of his masterpieces for Day 136 was a when I knew I was on to something.

It really did and continues to get me through the low days. The shitty days through chemo where I felt and looked so vile, I made Courtney Love on a bad day look beautiful. On the days post treatment when I can’t work in my building and renovation company again because of the nerve damage in my arm, I have a reason to keep going. The response from the ever increasing number of followers who inspire and delight me with their love, encouragement and unadulterated support…..they all keep me going. They keep me shaving my head (at least until day 365), in solidarity of all those who have lost their hair through medical reasons, to stick two fingers up and say bald can be beautiful, bald can be strong, bald has its place in the world and not just from pity.

Q. We read so much about the difficulties getting through cancer treatment, but very little about how life is affected post treatment. What have been the challenges you have faced after treatment and throughout recovery?

There is a rather long list I'm afraid. First and most devastatingly is the breakdown of my relationship with my darling partner. We used to live and work together (we had a building company), but after my surgery I was no longer able to work with him and our income was pretty much halved over night. That combined with us both having to readjust to the new me, put such a huge strain on us that we were unable to get through it together.

In addition to the financial and emotional strain, there are the physical difficulties. I have chronic nerve pain in my right arm that I have to take strong medication for. I have had multiple infections in my arm, one which lead to sepsis, in fact I was very close to death or at best having my arm amputated. But lucky for me, I pulled through and ran the Brighton Half Marathon a few days later. It is tough some days, and I still don't have paid work so having the daily headgear challenge keeps me focused.

Q. You come across as super confident and a total inspiration to many women - how has breast cancer affected your confidence and how you feel about your image?

Wow! thank you! I feel more confident than I've ever been before. If someone told me that I would be able to stand in front of a live audience and speak publicly about myself, I would never have believed them. Having a bald head leaves nowhere to hide and I like that. I suppose I just don't take myself too seriously and whilst I struggle with bouts of depression, I will always try and find something to giggle about - hence the terrible puns to match the headgear each day.

Q. How did you manage with resuming 'normal' life with work, family etc. once you were in recovery?

I hope the above answers this! But basically, my little world fell apart after treatment. It really is the hardest time. I don't think there is any such thing as normal anymore. We never know when the sh#t is going to hit the fan, so I really do just try and take a day at a time and deal what what is happening in the moment. I also really try my best not to dwell on the future - easier said than done!

Q. You have raised a staggering amount of money for Macmillan Support! How have you managed to be so successful in your fundraising? - such a phenomenal achievement!

Ah bless you, I don't really know the answer to that. I think Macmillan is a very well loved and respected charity, so in many ways it's been easy. Most people seem very happy to donate. I also think that because I keep regular posts on social media and keep challenging myself to more personal goals, it gives me an excuse to keeping raising money and awareness. I still use the services of Macmillan on a regular basis so it only seems right that I should, where I can, do what I can to give back something.

fizzy snood at macmillan charity event

Q. You always look totally glamorous and stunning! What advice would you give to any other women affected by hair loss?

You're too kind. That'll be the make up and the odd filter; not quite so glam when I'm running on Facebook Live - LOL. I wouldn't dream to give any advice to anyone. We're all different and we will all respond differently to hair loss. For some it may be to wear a wig, for others a hat and for me it was to be bald. All I would say is just to do what is comfortable for you. It is so very daunting, I consider myself very lucky that once it had gone, I wasn't too fussed, but for others it can be a very stressful and upsetting side effect of the treatment.

Fizzy Snood cancer survivor and fundraiser

Q. What's next for Fizzy Snoods?

Who knows what the future will hold, but I do have two dates in the diary and that's the Brighton Half Marathon in February and then the full Brighton Marathon in April. Between now and then, I'll carry on wearing hats, telling frightfully bad jokes, campaigning, speaking and fundraising.


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Do I have to pay VAT?

If you are experiencing hair loss you may not have to pay the VAT on some of our products. Headwear we have designed and manufactured specifically for hair loss wear is exempted. ‘Standard’ items of headwear such as scarves, brooches, some winter/summer hats by other designers, skincare are not eligible. They have not been ‘adapted’ for special wear. The ‘status’ of items will be displayed in your basket, before ordering, once a short health declaration is completed.

During checkout you will be asked to confirm that you will be using our products for your own personal medical purposes.

It is a legal requirement stipulated by HRMC that Suburban Turban Ltd can justify our customers’ VAT exemption status. Please be aware that these details maybe verified at a later date.