For International Women’s Day this year I’d like to tell you a true story. You may remember my posts from 2022 about losing my friend Pippa, and I want to share some of her words with you today. This happened on 4 March last year, a few weeks before she passed away. She’d posted a picture of herself in the middle of her second round of intravenous chemo, bald, pale, severely fatigued, a series of tubes coming out of her neck, and she wrote: ‘Never thought I’d look like this! But I’m so grateful to still be able to wake up and carry on.’

As more and more people reassured her she was beautiful, ‘still beautiful’, and ‘still a beautiful person’, she added this:

I have to mention because I don’t think it was understood (probably due to me being sleepy) that I was not talking about ‘beauty’. I just never thought I’d be ‘bald’ and with me and my family dealing with ‘leukemia’. And I’m really grateful that there are medicines that are giving me a chance to fight this and live another day! I’d spend the next 40 years bald if it meant I have a chance to see my kids get old and see my grandkids grow up. Whether I’m beautiful enough never came into my mind taking this pic and posting it but thank you all the same if you thought that and wanted me to feel better but it’s totally unnecessary and not important to me.
Much love to you all

The eloquence and grace of this response will always stay with me. Much love to everyone reading this too, especially if you’re unwell at the moment. May we all be as determined and brave as Pippa.

PS The accompanying quote from Maya Angelou is the one Pippa posted herself for International Women’s Day last year, a few days after this exchange. The irony is I’m not sure she realised how much she had just embodied this statement.