A BRAVE woman is showing others the reality of living with cancer.

Maggie O'Connor, from Colchester, was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma in December after finding a small lump on her back.

Instead of feeling scared Miss O'Connor, 29, decided to tackle her cancer head-on.

From going a month without telling anyone on social media she had cancer, she has now posted a video on Facebook of her head being shaved.

She said it was to show women they should not be afraid to face what is in front of them.

The foster carer, of Harwich Road, said: "I had an achy back on and off, I found a small lump and after a guided biopsy I got the diagnosis.

"It was a bit unexpected but it was one of those things. I just said I was able to deal with it and I was looking at how to get better.

"A diagnosis is a good thing and I feel really lucky."

She said her family has also been a huge support.

She added: "Some of my friends were upset but they have been amazing, no-one wailed or worried."

Last month her hair started falling out, and she knew straight away it needed to go.


She said: "I hadn't lost much hair, I thought I had gotten away with it. My hair had thinned but it hadn't fallen out.

"But one Sunday night a whole chunk of my hair came out. I thought I would shave it otherwise it would look silly.

"On the Wednesday I said today was the day, my friend Lauren Hammond did it which was nice."

She said it was an empowering experience, and would advise any woman going through chemotherapy to do it.

She added: "You have mixed feelings, anyone would feel a bit overwhelmed as people will see the illness before they see you.

"When you have cancer there is not much control you can take, but by cutting my hair off it was like saying 'no, I'm in charge of this'."

As well as filming her head shave she has created an Instagram account - cancergirl88 - to document her experience. It has gained nearly 300 followers in a month.


She said: "I didn't want the attention surrounding it, but I decided to tell people they don't need to worry.

"The Instagram is so people can see what it's like day to day. People talk about cancer but they don't really see people feeling ill or losing their hair.

"I thought I knew about cancer before but I was incredibly naive."

The Instagram account includes explanations of treatments such as chemotherapy.

Maggie, who lives with her partner Chris, is on a three-month cycle and then she will have a scan before the lump is removed.

To watch the video click here.