They say you should never look a gift horse in the mouth or in my case the bloated stomach.
As you know I've been gifted the dream of a lifetime by Emirates to attend their Birdcage Marquee as a guest on Melbourne Cup Day.
I have been imagining my attendance at this event since I learnt what the Birdcage was. The picture I had in my head was of me with my pre cancer gloriously long shiny hair swishing side from side, with gorgeous headpiece meticulously perched atop. I was svelte and tanned, with my stunning designer dress and heels, I was so stunning that Jennifer Hawkins herself hid behind a posh porta loo so that she didn't have to be compared to my gloriousness in the social section of the papers the following day. So that was my idea.
A few years ago I was all set to attend the Cup, not as a birdcage guest, as a corporate guest and I bought this amazing dress. Unfortunately I didn't get to attend because of flight cancellations and logistics. This dress has been hanging in my wardrobe ever since and now that I have finally been given this amazing opportunity, that stunning dress? Well it is now four times too small for me.
This beautiful picture of me swanning around the birdcage with people like Bec Cartwright getting whiplash from staring at my fabulousness, is not what the actual reality is going to be. I now have a bullfrog chin/neck rather than my pre-cancer strong jaw line with not even the glimpse of a second chin, well my hair.....at least I have some and my biggest issue is my ever swelling, ever changing belly. I can put a skirt on in the morning and by 1pm the skirt will no longer zip up, due to steroidal swelling and ascites (tumour fluid), one morning I'll wake up looking like I'm 6 months pregnant and the next day I look like I'm only 3 months pregnant. So you see the dress issue is an actual issue, have you ever noticed any stylish dress that would be suitable for the cup, is either fitted or boned? So the chances of finding a stylish dress that allows for a changing body throughout the day, well the chances are slim, something I haven't been for a very long time.
I went dress shopping with my Mum the other day and it was like our own version of Freaky Friday all over. For years I've traipsed from shop to shop, change room to change room, trying to squeeze Mum into dresses that simply wouldn't go near her, it used to actually upset me that she had so much trouble finding a dress, now it's the other way round. I almost need to bring WD40 with me to get me into dresses in double digits sizing.....NOTHING and I mean NOTHING came close to my beautiful Melbourne Cup dress that hangs in my wardrobe, waiting to go to the ball or in my case the Cup. At one point I was wrestling with a dress, pulling it over my head desperately trying to not get my make-up on it, did I mention I also sweat like a whore in church? I don't know if it's my hormones or if it's the meds, but I sweat profusely all the time, I could have run a marathon before cancer and not had a drop of sweat escape from my pores, now it pours out of me if I walk from the loungeroom to the kitchen and no, I don't live in a mansion. So I was wrestling with this straight jacket of a dress and Mum comes to the change room door and asks my opinion of the dress she's wearing, yep, you guessed it, it's the exact same frigging dress and she looks absolutely stunning.......cue every possible emotion a daughter can feel when their Mum looks hotter than they do, I think a bit of The Divinyl's "I'm jealous" was literally on repeat in my mind.
I realise some of you out there will be thinking, you can't please this bloody girl, but believe me when I say that I am more than grateful for the generosity of so many of you out there, especially Emirates. I sort of liken it to getting married, for many of you beauties out there the thought of getting married has been with you since you knew what it was, drawing big meringue dresses, with tiaras and 10 foot long veils, 10 tier cake, oh and maybe throw a groom in the mix as well. Well that's sort of what it's like for me and my love affair with the Birdcage and Melbourne Cup, I used to draw fascinator's on the back of my exercise books at school and run to the library at school so I could see the race that stops the nation, even if it meant missing the first train home after school and hanging around a Train Station platform for another hour, I would not miss that race that stops the Nation for anybody, then of course I would eagerly wait for the evening news download on all of the fashions on the field and the Newspaper the next day, because back in my school days the Internet was still only in its early days, so we didn't have live streaming and fashion blogs. So imagine you suddenly balloon, have 2 or 3 chins, you are so bloated, that it is not only painful, it literally takes your breath away, (the tumours in my stomach sit high in my abdomen and push on my lungs, literally suffocating me) and your wedding is tomorrow. I'm sure when you were picturing your special big day, you didn't envisage a completely different looking person to yourself, well that's what it's like for me, my body and my face change shape and appearance from one day to the next and it's just sad that I'm not feeling my best physically or emotionally for my "special" day.
I know I should be screaming in joy from the rooftops, but I'm scared that the dress that I've bought will not zip up on the day and if it doesn't, I simply cannot go, because I literally have nothing else in my wardrobe that is Cup suitable and stretchy enough to allow for my ever expanding belly. I've also had the amazing offer from a fabulous milliner to make my head piece on the day and I'm scared that I'll get his piece and then change my dress at the last minute for comfort reasons.
Anyway, as I've said before, just because I have cancer, just because I am terminal, does not mean that my insecurities have just disappeared into thin air. So many people in my position begin to say things like appearance doesn't matter, there are so many more important things in life, like actually living, well I'm not one of them. I still have my insecurities and I always will, right up until the end I'll probably be checking my reflection in the doctor's stethoscope and if you unlock my phone you'll be greeted by your own face, because I'm constantly looking at myself on my camera in my phone.
Whatever happens, I just hope my face and stomach are on a less bloated day, I can do my zip up and breathe the whole day, if that happens I will be ecstatic. Thank-you fabulous rockstars for getting me into the magical land of unicorns, WAGS and the "beautiful" people and keep your fingers crossed that Megan Gale or Jen Hawkins don't rock up in the same dress as me, because that would just open up a whole other can of worms, that I just couldn't deal with on top of everything else, on the upside it would make a good blog!
Stay fabulous rockstars ❤️🤘🏼🐎
My name is Lisa Magill and I have been navigating the minefield that is cancer since just months after turning 30, people have been saying to me for years that I should put my thoughts into writing and as time has progressed I thought I had left it too late, well here we are nearly 4 years in and for some unknown reason I've decided to start to write today.