Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Friday 10th October

This ‘cancer thing’ (as I seem to call it) has been going on for 5 weeks. And it seems, strangely, to have lost impetus.

This has nothing to do with the fact that I think that everyone should keep their attention on me and on the possible threat, or not – nor should everyone around me be in a perpetual state of stress and angst over what may / may not happen. It has everything to do with the protracted process that the ‘cancer thing’ is and how much of a waiting game is involved.

It’s also got a lot to do with how real life just rolls on. And, I suppose, how I just get on with things.

It’s also so interesting how time, even a short time, changes so much.

Before I had cancer, the idea of a ‘mastectomy’ seemed extremely daunting, disfiguring and just a horrible thought. I wondered how women who had had one coped – and dealt with only having one breast. (I think I never even thought much about reconstruction.) Before I had the mastectomy, I was variously completely freaked out by the thought of having a breast removed (even harbouring images of a large, gaping wound where the one had been ‘hacked off’). I did work through the idea, found out more about it and spoke to some women who have had the op, which helped to lay some of the ghosts to rest. I got to the point where I was not completely sure how I actually felt. I also did not know how I felt about reconstruction, but did know that I wanted the option. I did know that immediate reconstruction was not the way to go, though.

On Tuesday, the day after the mastectomy, I studiously and purposefully did not either try to feel the op site, or look at it at all. In fact, I specifically avoided the opportunity to do so.

By the time I’d come home on Wednesday, I decided to take the chance to look at what had been done to my poor old bod. Now, I can look at the site quite easily.

What’s interesting to me is how almost ordinary it feels to have had a mastectomy and to be able to look at myself with only one breast. Everything is still swollen and the dressings are on. It is rather freaky to see, in some ways, but it’s also basically just another part of me.

Which is kind of weird – especially with the ‘world goes on’ thing going on around me (which is inevitable).

It feels almost as thought this whole thing has been a damp squib, which, of course, I know it isn’t. There are still the results from the lymph histology to get back. There is still the whole question of chemo. There is also the whole process – and question, actually – of reconstruction. Those in themselves are huge. It just feels as though everything has come to a pause of normality. Paul goes off to work, David to varsity. Sarah, Dan and Mike are at home (it being school holidays and all) and life just generally chunters along. I don’t feel sick, or particularly tired and even the pain of the op is not that bad (except, ironically, when I wake up in the morning. There’s something about sitting / standing up that seems to relieve certain pressures.) I do have my ‘handbag’ (the drain), which is now in it’s own actual handbag, leaving my hands free when I move around.

Otherwise, it’s all just normal.

But it’s not.

It’s really just a hiatus, I suppose, a long, straight stretch on the roller-coaster track, before the next uphill begins and the wild ride continues.


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