What on earth will I say?

Many years ago I had my one and only public speaking gig.

It was in Newcastle, just after I finished up as editor of Woman’s Day. I filled my speech with lots of celebrity anecdotes and it seemed to get quite a few laughs, though my mum remains slightly embarrassed to this day by my salaciousness.

Someone sitting in the audience that day never forgot me – bless them – and tracked me down a few months ago to ask if I’d address a breast cancer function she’s organising in October.

I pointed out that I wasn’t anybody special these days, just a suburban single mum, but she didn’t seem to mind so long as I could regale everyone with funny celeb anecdotes. Well yes, there’s my old faithful seeing Hugh Jackman naked IN REAL LIFE story, the time I had dinner with Kylie Minogue, the excruciating hour Anthony LaPaglia spent yelling at me after one of my bloody subs captioned a photograph of him taking his shirt off as “Anthony LaPudgier” …

So I took a deep breath and agreed.

Now I just have to find a plausible narrative in the speech that explains why a nobody with zero connection to breast cancer is addressing a charity breakfast.

I don’t think being mistaken for someone with a dodgy mammogram result cuts it … Remember the lump-in-the-boob incident?

Here’s a little recap:

First-time mammograms are scary things because you don’t know what to expect. The horizontal boob squishing wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, the vertical boob squishing was pretty ordinary … and then I was left alone in the room while the nurse went to show the results to a doctor … except she didn’t explain whether that’s a normal thing or not. So I sat there for the next five minutes that felt like five hours worrying that her showing a doctor meant there was a problem …

Then it was off for an ultrasound, which was waaaaay more uncomfortable than the mammogram. No one ever mentions THAT. Lots of pressing hard on sensitive areas with a nasty plastic wand thingy. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

It also takes ages as the ultrasound operator goes backwards and forwards and up and down and under and over, which again makes you fret that the reason it’s taking ages because something is WRONG. Especially when she puts her hand to her mouth, which is probably just her way of concentrating, but looks like she’s thinking OH. MY. GOD. That tumour is HUGE. I feel so sorry for her …

However, the thing that probably took the cake in the worry stakes was sitting in the waiting room for my results and having a parade of staff stick their heads around the corner and stare at me with furrowed brows, then having one of them hustle over and say the senior radiographer would be out to see me shortly …

What the?

Oooops, turns out they’d mistaken me for some other poor woman …

Nup, not quite right … I’ll have to be creative. I’ll talk about being a Newie girl who made it in journalism, give a little rundown of my career and life and then discuss how everything came crashing down – it looked like I was living the Disney fairytale, but the reality was more Brothers Grimm. And then I lost it all: job, husband, a few of my marbles, house.

And I’ll discuss how it taught me what really matters: friends and family and love.

I might not have the fancy pay check any more, or be able to organise charity initiatives like giving part of the sale of every issue of Woman’s Day to go to breast cancer research, or totter around in designer shoes, but …

I’ve realised that no matter how little time or money or power you have, there’s always something you can do to help: giving someone a hug, letting them know you’re there whenever they need you, attending a breast cancer fundraising breakfast, agreeing to be guest speaker at one …

I think that’s got potential.

Gulp … Do you think it will do the trick?

Song of the day: Natalie Merchant “Beloved Wife”

PS The main photo is me – with gorgeous Cass and Josanne – during my Cosmo mag days.

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