Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Tuesday 14th October

I have gone from feeling like a bit of a fraud, to feeling much more like someone recovering from a big op – again!

Much of this is because I was beginning to think my drain would come out, as the measurements were decreasing and I really do feel well and have been getting around a lot and doing things. Then, I noticed that my ‘non-boob’ was much larger than the real one. Sarah took me to the doc yesterday to check on what was happening with the drain and to ask about the ‘larger boob’ thing.

Turns out the drain was blocked and I had about 200ml of the grucky fluid that comes out of me pooling up in the wound area – hence the larger ‘non-boob’. The doc drained all this and I was so much more comfortable. And aware that I am not, actually, verging on 100%.

Well, I am – it’s just I have these two really large wounds that need to heal. I also look, again, like someone who had one breast removed.

What is continually fascinating to me is the way people react to the whole question of the cancer and the operation.

It’s also so interesting to see what actually constitutes friendship. True friendship.

There are a whole number of people who I count as my friends who sent lovely messages about the cancer, but who have then just faded into the sunset. I know that real life is busy and gets in the way of a lot of things. It’s also true that this is very real to me and those closest to me and, while others understand the point, they don’t live with the impact all the time.

Still, it’s interesting to witness, in practice, the truth of old sayings about what constitutes a true friend.

Every-so-often, the whole situation can hit someone on the outside (i.e. not me) and they react badly. Some of the time, the upset is taken out on me – in the fashion of anyone human, where you will ‘attack’ those closest to you. It is not at me, but I happen to be there.

The apology for this is often accompanied by an acknowledgement that, as hard as it is for those ‘outside’, it must be even harder for me.

Conversely (and strangely), I think that, in many ways, it is perversely easier for me – at times, anyway.

I find this hard to explain, but it has something to do with the fact that because it is about me, I confront it all the time and have worked my mind and thoughts around so many things. I think about it all the time, even in the background. The demon, therefore, is familiar and far from ‘familiarity breeding contempt, is something understood and accepted – and about which I will do what needs to be done to get rid of. For others, though – specifically those closest to me – I think it’s something like they literally don’t live with it all the time, so, when they do think about it, it’s almost as though they are confronting the demon anew. This makes it all the more scary. They also cannot do anything to make it go away and this feeling of helplessness must add to the upset.

Yesterday we got the results of the op. The histology showed that there was a malignant tumour and that lymph had been involved (hence the sentinel node being positive). The other 11 lymph nodes that were removed were all clear, though. 🙂

I was not completely overwhelmed with relief at the results, because, I think, that was what I was expecting to hear – coming from what we knew before and how the docs have explained it to me. I also know that chemo must follow, because there could always be something lurking somewhere really shady.

I may feel a little more deeply after we’ve seen the docs today – and, especially, after seeing the oncologist.

Although the lump has been removed (hell, my whole breast has gone!), the demon still lurks and needs to be ousted completely. A battle has been won, but the war still needs to be waged on other fronts.

I think, perhaps, my great relief is waiting for the (as near as possible) final, absolute announcement of the ‘all-clear’! 🙂



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