Anne Shewring was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. At the time she wrote about her treatment and her life in a blog called ‘Anne is Keeping Busy’.

In a special series for Live Better With, Anne looks back at that time and shares her thoughts and experiences once again. (Read part 1 here; part 2 here; part 3 here;  and part 4 here.) In this final instalment, Anne finds another ‘upside’ to her experience by visiting London’s Wallace Collection museum…

September 23 2011 – ‘Uncomfortable clothes’

Carrying on a little from yesterday’s cleaning theme, firstly – who knew our flat could be so sparkly. Bravo to the elbow grease applied by someone else. Even our bathroom taps, which I had thought to be ruined by me applying inappropriate products sometime ago, are now all shiny-bright.

The odour of oven cleaner lingered around the flat for perhaps a bit too long though. There was something about the smell that made me think that my chemo is like having the most astringent cleaning products applied to my insides. My mouth tastes like someone has rubbed too hard with a Brillo Pad, while the fumes from the oven cleaner seemed to be attempting to unit with the chemicals inside me (fluorouacil, epirubicin, cyclophosphamide) to form some kitchen-human super cleaning agent.

On a lighter note, today I have been mostly keeping busy by meeting two lovely friends, plus visiting the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square. (For those not familiar, this is a collection of art, furniture and armour assembled by one family, the Marquesses of Hertford and Sir Richard Hertford, over four generations, then donated to the Nation in 1897 and still housed in the original town house of the Hertford’s ).


  1. Huge number of paintings of dead game
  2. Good wallpaper
  3. Lesson to us all in how accumulating stuff, supported by real wealth, can get way out of hand.

In particular I was drawn to two paintings. Firstly, there is poor Prince Baltasar Carlos in Silver (1633) by Diego Velázquez; the three-year old is pictured in the stiffest silver dress you can imagine (and he went on to die at 16 so doubly poor Prince).

‘Prince Baltasar Carlos in Silver’ by Diego Velázquez. The Wallace Collection


Secondly, there is Susanna van Collen and her Daughter Anna (1633) by Rembrandt, or someone from his studio. This gives us the whole “look at us, we’re so wealthy” thing again, the mother handing her daughter cash in anticipation of a serious dowry. As a side issue, apparently the grapes in that basket on the table behind suggest hoped for fecundity within marriage.

‘Susanna van Collen, Wife of Jean Pellicorne with Her Daughter Anna’ by Rembrandt van Rijn (and studio). The Wallace Collection


What link these pictures for me is just how darn uncomfortable those clothes must have been. The dress looks like steel, while Mrs van C’s collar is just insane.  How scratchy must that have been, not to mention plain awkward?



(Maybe not strictly an upside, but…)  I’m grateful not to be living in an age of uncomfortable clothes. Imagine going through sweats in that garb.

Uncomfortable on the inside is enough.




If you would like to talk about any of the issues raised in Anne’s cancer diary, why not share your thoughts and experiences with the Live Better With cancer community.