Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Friday 30th January

Today is three weeks since the last chemo.

In that other ‘chemo world’, I would have been kicked in the teeth again today, back down to the beginning by the red devil – or so it felt before – just as I was getting to feel so much better.

But that is over, for which I am so grateful.

Everything is relative and everything changes, but I’m sure I was feeling a whole lot better than I am now just before that last chemo. I think it’s something to do with the cumulative effect of the drugs. Also, though, recovering in Sedge on holiday was always a lot different from being home and having to negotiate real life and work and school while trying to get better. I definitely rested a lot more in Sedge 😉

Just over three weeks ago, I was running (for that, don’t necessarily read ‘jogging’) further and more regularly than I am now. I also didn’t seem to be so tired the whole time. My eyes were definitely bugging me, though.

I’ve learnt not to think too much about the chemo taste. It seems to lurk and come back just when I am feeling much happier. Being assailed by it again makes me hate it even more, because I have been ‘normal’ for some while.

The taste was back yesterday. I have accepted that it’ll come and go for a while – at least, until the drugs are completely gone.

Yesterday I went for a paddle again. I only did two laps, in a polo boat, which is okay and obviously helps with the fitness. Even more importantly, though, is the time out on the water. The dam is in the middle of Joburg. There are people around and cars drive almost constantly down the one side and over the dam wall. There is just something about being out on a body of water, though, that is calming and extremely peaceful.

It’s like the idea of finding an oasis in the middle of everything. It doesn’t last forever, because something will happen, like having to get back, or eventually reaching the buoy that seems to be ever receding as I paddle, but it is a wonderfully calming experience.

We all need to be able to have moments of finding oases into which we can escape from everything, even for a few moments. Often these are not physical places, but spaces in our minds.

I am so very bad at that – finding the moment to be able to sit alone and just contemplate. There is always too much to be done. For me, my oases are in going running (even along a city street, with cars) or out on the dam. I need to be physically, as well as mentally, occupied.

I do not spend all my time thinking about the mastectomy and what it actually means, but it definitely hits home with alarming regularity at the moment. I can’t really explain it to anyone, except to say that it’s as though my mind has now decided to actually compute the impact of everything. When I run (jog), though, or paddle, life isn’t about having only one boob, or even worrying about doing work and bringing money in. The chemo taste doesn’t matter, nor does having no hair. What matters is the moment, feeling the endorphins kicking in and just, for those moments, being whole, in body and mind.

So many moments, and so many things, to be grateful for.

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