Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Friday 3rd October

My birthday is in three days!

It’s amazing how having something that you can’t even see and have absolutely no sense of, like cancer, can change so many things. For me it’s not a fundamental, “Oh, I see the whole world differently now.” Maybe it’s not like that for anyone. It’s more like a subtle paradigm shift has taken place.

Partly this is about just sommer going ahead and making what are actually life-changing decisions – like about the operation – without really and truly processing the implications. Okay, there aren’t really decisions to be made, as everything is actually on the path it has to take. Maybe it’s more about simply accepting and going ahead with things that will affect me deeply and change so much.

Here I sit, as healthy as can be. Apparently. My cold has finally decided to fly the coop and my chest feels a little ‘cloudy’ (as the kids describe it), but generally I’m better. Under normal circumstances, I would have been back at gym, if not running. Now, because of the operation, I’m still being so circumspect and ‘sensible’. Which is, of course, quite very frustrating.

Whenever things involving tidying, moving, lifting are involved, I’m usually the one who gets most physically ‘into it’. (I remember fondly how, many moons ago, Mark and I literally moved Noel and Mark’s belongings to their new house, because everyone else was incapacitated in some way. This included, of course, steel cabinets, a fridge and one large safe!) For the past few weeks, I have been instructed to take it easy and I have made myself not over-exert – not because I am incapable, but because I have been so conscious of not making myself wheeze any more than I was, so that my chest would be fine for the surgery.

And I have felt like a total wus. I am fine. But I’m not. Shift in paradigm.

I do find that there is a sense of looking at the world differently – not fundamentally, like waking from a dream etc. It’s more like a general awareness of things and people around me. There really is so much wonder in this world.

Then there is the effect the whole thing has on making decisions.

I’m really bad at making decisions anyway. (I have been told this is a Libra thing.) Now, there are times that I’m told to choose what I want to do, not for others, but specifically for me.

So, when do I reach the moment when it is all about me?

I understand the point and that these are unusual circumstances – but where is the moment when I let go of what actually makes me happy, which is often a sense that everyone else is happy.

The idea of ‘you can’t please everybody’ is fairly alien to me. I try, often, to do just that – maybe at the expense of what I would choose if it was only about me. (I have, in fact, been admonished for making things about others and not myself, at times.) If that’s how I choose to see things, though, is it such a bad thing?

Maybe the point is that, although this cancer places me in a different position and kind of makes things a little horrible – specifically for me (let’s face it, who actually wants to have any kind of op on their birthday?); and, because of the implications of the disease / condition (still haven’t decided which it really is), it makes me (and everyone, actually) see things differently, nothing is actually different: I am still exactly who I am and things are exactly as they always are – including my sense of understanding and catering for others when I make decisions that should, in some ways, be primarily about me.

If including and considering others is what I’m all about, why should a little thing like cancer change any of that?


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