Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Tuesday 18th November

Sometimes ‘they’ are very useful. (You know, those that tell you things about things and warn you about other things.)

There have been quite a few people who have told me lots about cancer and chemo and what happens. I have been told about the effects and about what may happen to me. I have also been told that every cancer patient is different and my favourite saying when it comes to contemplating what will happen in my case has definitely become, “How long is a piece of string.”

(Fortunately, Drama is very much a ‘How long is a piece of string’ discipline: there are so many factors involved in performance that there are often no absolutes.)

One of the things I have been told about is my hair falling out.

I know that the ‘red devil’ is the ‘hair-falling-out’ drug and that all my hair will go. I have also been given time frames and details about eyebrows, eyelashes and even nose hair!

True to form, it was two weeks after the first chemo yesterday – the day pinpointed for the hair loss to begin (well, 12-14 days after the chemo) and, Ta-dah! my hair is definitely falling out.

What ‘they’ failed to mention – at all! – is that having the drugs attacking your hair and causing hair loss is so damn SORE!

I could barely sleep on Sunday night because my head was so sore. I have also had a pretty permanent headache since then. It feels as though someone is pulling on every hair on my head. When I lie down and the hair moves, this puts pressure on the already painful roots and it’s very sore 🙁

I find this so strange – because literally nothing I’ve read / been told has made mention of the pain.

Well, we live and we learn!

Even as I’m concerned about my poor old sore head, I’m acutely aware that there is so much horrible pain and real suffering around me.

They found our missing paddler’s body yesterday. His family can only be suffering as few of us can understand. At the same time, though, the entire paddling fraternity is united in their grief and good wishes for the family, which can only help to bolster them at this time.

Not one of us ever stands alone.

Me and my hair loss pales into insignificance many times – which does not make it completely real for me and relevant to me at this time. It makes me think of how Mum would react – she’d already have gone out and bought me the wig she promised when I had my head shaved for the Shavathon. Even as I think about that, I am reminded of the loss that Carl, Daynia and Noel and the rest of the family feel all the time. And yet we are constantly there for each other.

Without family, without friends, without each other, we would be nothing.

As much as I am concerned about those closest to me and how the whole cancer and chemo thing affects them, I know I would be in a different place if it weren’t for them.


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