Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Saturday 29th November

There are a few things that ‘they’ say are “not for the fainthearted”. I am discovering every day that cancer and chemo are two of these.

No-one warns you about cancer: not about how it may be a process of finding out and waiting, waiting, waiting – for doctors and tests and results; or about how you will be prodded and pricked and probed and scanned, even before you will be cut up and changed forever; or about how much pain there will actually be; or just about the horror of hearing the diagnosis and having to process the implications. They don’t warn you about how horrible it is to see the effect on those close to you; or about the long moments at night when you do allow things to sink in; or about the feelings of being alone in the middle of all the togetherness around you.

Chemo, on the other hand, you get lots of warnings about – particularly the side-effects. You pretty much know what is going to come, at least what may come, each of us being individual and not all side-effects affecting everyone the same.

What they don’t warn you about, though, is the implacably resolute way in which the drugs keep affecting you, almost without pause – but with variation in where and how they hit.

In all fairness to ‘them’, though, I’m not sure if anyone can actually prepare you for the actual experience of being assaulted by the side-effects.

So, they warn you about the nausea. What they cannot prepare you for is the almost impenetrable insistence with which it just seems to sit there. Or that you will feel as though there is no escape from feeling like that. They warn you about the possible discomfort in your mouth, but cannot prepare you for the way that, almost just as the nausea finally seems to abate slightly, the pain in your mouth will slide in.

And so it goes on…

What they don’t tell you, though, is that it’s not only nausea, you get a good old-fashioned ‘tummy ache’ that never goes away; or that, as your hair begins to fall out, it is so damn sore; or that a thrombosing vein is horribly sore, especially when you keep bumping your arm!

Nope! Chemo and cancer are surely not for the fainthearted!

And me feeling like such a wus… 😉

Noelene made my day today when she told me that she saw someone with miniature hedgehogs from Madagscar, called ‘Tenrecs’. This was after she felt my head. I asked her if I looked like one and she said, “No, you feel like one.”

So, here’s to my months as a Tenrec: and to the other Tenrecs out there – definitely not the faint of heart! 🙂



  1. Donnie Morn says:

    Hi there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

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