Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Sunday 20th October

It’s interesting how people react to this cancer thing – at least, in my experience since I was diagnosed.

People I barely know, and some I haven’t even met, ask after me almost daily. Some even send me messages. Then, sometimes those I’d expect to be really concerned (and who have demonstrated that they are, indeed, so) will not even ask me how I am doing.

It upsets me at times. And also puzzles me.

Then I realised that, perhaps, some of this is my own fault: maybe I am just too damn resilient.

Carl is continuously fascinated by how well I am coping. I find his fascination fascinating too. I am just what I am; and who I am. This is, apparently, how I do things.

In fact, Carl tried to find the word he thought would describe me and, I think ‘resilient’ was a compromise, as he could not put his finger on the actual word. I don’t know what the word is, I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe it’s just Noel’s ‘Nike chick’ thing – I just do things.

I do know, though, that on occasion and under certain circumstances, I have almost wished that I, too, had the same ability of some of the others around me to be able to play truly ‘feak and weeble’ (per Dad). I have been in places at times when someone else, faced most probably with the same deadlines, challenges and aggravating circumstances as me, has really put on the ‘dying swan’ act and received all kinds of sympathy and help. Me – I just got on and did it.

Which doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have liked to have tried the same thing.

I also know, however, that, were I to truly ‘put it on’ and go into a decline about coping, people would either ignore me (expecting me to just get on and do it), or would even laugh it off. It’s just not like me.

People have said I’m brave with all this cancer stuff. I’m not sure about that, I think I’m just me.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t also need support, though. I think that was where Mum understood me so completely – mainly because we are exactly the same in this. She was always so extraordinarily competent and in control – and so damn stubborn 🙂  She was also human, though, and had her moments when she just needed to let go and be listened to .

Which is why, I’m sure, in the last week or so, I have either had the greatest urge to pick up the phone to talk to her, or found myself thinking that it’s a bit early to do so. Yesterday morning, at about 06h15, the thought seriously flitted across my mind that I couldn’t phone her yet because, even for Mum, that would be a little early on a Sunday.

I don’t know how else to do this, how else to face it, except by being me and ‘just doing it’. There is no other way.

There are, however, moments – and they are just moments, when I wish, just a little, that I did actually have the ability to surrender to the pressure, to the impact, just a little bit.

But then they’re gone. And my natural resilience (whatever the word really is) kicks in again and on we go.

Onward and upward. One step at a time.

Maybe that’s specifically when Mum speaks to my inner soul.


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