Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Tuesday 16th September

In a  poem, Philip Larkin talks about the “toad work” squatting on his life. I’m starting to feel like that. It’s as though this cancer is a toad squatting in my boob: completely uninvited, absolutely selfish and of no use whatsoever. Except to itself, I suppose.

And it’s scary. Not the cancer itself. That’s like some kind of unknown, shadowy threat that I can’t see and therefore don’t really understand. What is so scary is what’s going to happen to me because of it.

I hate anything to do with needles, operations and blood. The thought of being cut open in even the slightest way ‘grils’ me.  The thought of having a big operation like a mastectomy fills me with so much dread that I almost can’t acknowledge it.

I still don’t know, of course, if the surgery will be that radical. Part of the scariness at the moment is, of course, the ongoing uncertainty. Still, the doc is back tomorrow, so I will find out soon enough. Mostly, I can be quite positive and almost ‘gung-ho’. I do really believe that dwelling on things one doesn’t know, can’t predict and definitely can’t control is unproductive. These things do creep up on one, though – hence the fear that looms every-so-often.

When Mum died, one of my friends told me that it is a crap, crap, crap feeling. And it is. It’s still incomprehensible. Even as we continue to tidy out the house, it doesn’t’ make it feel any more real – actually it makes it all so much more horrible and completely surreal. Then this whole cancer thing just exacerbates everything.

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