Bligh is 'getting stronger every day'
Anna Bligh talks about her "very big decision" to be photographed bald during her "gruelling" cancer treatment but says she "just wanted to be honest". Nine NewsPT1M51S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ucsf 620 349 September 25, 2013
Her private cancer battle has become very public with former Queensland premier Anna Bligh bravely being photographed with no hair for the 80th birthday issue of The Australian Women's Weekly, during her treatment for cancer.
"I've just been through a very grueling experience with chemotherapy and I guess I just wanted to be honest about what that's really like," Bligh, wearing a wig, said at the 80th birthday luncheon of the iconic magazine at Potts Point restaurant The Apollo on Tuesday.
Bligh was in good spirits as she mingled with Governor General Quentin Bryce, Australian of the Year Ita Buttrose, editor Helen McCabe and Kerri-Anne Kennerley among others and enjoyed an intimate performance by Kate Ceberano.
Anna Bligh bares all about her battle with cancer. Photo: Australian Women's Weekly
Queensland's first female premier was photographed as you've never seen her before for the 80th birthday issue, which is on sale on Thursday.
She admitted to the magazine her diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma was a shock and that while she has now completed an "awful four months" of treatment, due to early diagnosis, her prognosis is good.
"Being diagnosed with cancer was not something I took in my stride. I was knocked for six. The idea that cancer is a battle and you can win it by being a strong person, that's not necessarily true. There are people who are a lot stronger than me, who are fighting very hard, and they are in a situation that is much scarier than mine," she told the magazine.
Anna Bligh bares all about her battle with cancer in this week's Australian Women's Weekly. Photo: Women's Weekly
Bligh also admitted the photograph, in the midst of treatment, was confronting, admitting "hearing that I would soon be bald was almost as hard to hear as my diagnosis."
"My hair was coming out in chunks before I decided that I had to have it shaved off," she says in the interview.
"No woman gives up her hair and all that goes with it - the styling, the colouring, the 'dos - with ease of nonchalance."
She had the electric clippers over her skull with her husband, Greg Withers, by her side, as well as good friends and a bottle of champagne at her hairdresser, Bruce Packer of Miracles For Hair.
"I was hoping for something close to Sinead O'Connor, or Sigourney Weaver...both of whom made bald look sexy," she laughs.
Bligh, who moved the nation when she rallied her fellow Queenslander's during the 2010-11 floods, is philosophical about her diagnosis: "There's something weirdly wonderful about a cancer diagnosis that seems to bring out the best in everyone."
Bligh also tells the magazine she noticed a small lump on the side of her face, near her earlobe, in late March.
She wasn't too bothered, mentioning it during a routine checkup, and not getting the X-rays for several weeks.
The diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma shocked her.
"Like a lot of people, I had taken my good health for granted. I was very shocked by the diagnosis and found it very confronting and cancer is still, despite the advances of medical science, one of those words when you hear it, it's terrifying."
She had surgery and chemotherapy and is now resolved to spread the message of getting lumps checked out.
"It's a good reminder to everyone: any lump or bump is worth checking".