Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Saturday 10th January

It is so strange to be seen as an inspiration by others.

There are a whole lot of people, the family most especially, who comment quite often about how well I have handled, and am handling, the whole cancer thing.

When I post a bulletin on FB, or Carl or David put a picture and a comment up, there are so many comments and likes – quite quickly too. Many of these are about how well I am doing and how impressive the way I am doing this is. Paul and the others in the family periodically get comments from friends and colleagues about how great I have been – and am being – through all this.

Through all of this, though, I am just me.

I have said a number of times that I don’t know any other way of doing this, of facing the reality of the cancer (although it has never been completely real to me, as there were no symptoms etc) and the aftermath of the treatments. I have had to take so much almost on faith, or, at least, on the expert opinions of them that know, and done as advised, or as they have recommended, simply because they know. Most of it has been surreal. I have really damning and damaging evidence of the reality, though and am, in fact, still living through the horrible after-effects of the chemo. That will go away, although it feels like a really long time right now. The feeling will eventually come back into the op site (although the doc tells me this can sometimes take years). Apparently even the thrombosed veins in my left arm will settle down. The wounds will heal and the scars will be nothing much to look at.  All this will be over in many ways.

I will always have to live with the mutilation of my body, though – or, at least, the result. I will have to be aware of the threat of cancer forever and have regular tests. Although this will not be my overriding priority, it will always be a part of my reality. So, too, will the constant thought of lymphedema in my right arm, although I believe this is not a certainty.

I suppose all of this could change a person. I’m sure it has changed me in ways I will not even begin to understand. None of it characterises me, though.

I am still just me – now with some physical scars, more psychological hurt to add to what already has zapped me and with only one boob!

There is really only one way of going forward and that is the best way we can.

When I was trying to learn to roll at polo, someone told me that I would get it right because, after all, “I have seen you climb mountains.”

And I have climbed many real mountains – mainly on the farm. Then, there is only one way of doing it and that is onward and upward. I think that is how I tend to do things generally. When I do a production, it is about the vision and taking all the steps to get there.

This cancer thing is the same: the vision is to get better and the journey continues onward and upward.

If my way of forging ahead (as I usually do with things) is an inspiration, then that’s how it must be. I am glad that others can take something from it. For me, well, if there is a mountain it must be climbed – just the best I know how.

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