Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Sunday 18th January

A couple of years ago, we decided to possibly sell the Condor and were looking out for a car that would replace it adequately. I became very aware of how many SUVs there are on the road, particularly 7-seaters. I’m sure the cars had always been there, my brain had just not been tuned in to focusing on them.

It’s like that with breast cancer. I know that women have had it over many years. I am also aware that the PINKDRIVE has existed for a long time. It’s only since I’ve had cancer that I’ve become tuned in to how many initiatives there are to raise awareness.

And to how it feels to be a ‘cancer survivor’.

The cricket ODI between the Proteas and the West Indies today was sponsored by Momentum specifically in aid of PINKDRIVE and breast cancer awareness. The commentator was interviewing the head of PINKDRIVE. He made the comment that everyone has a family member who has had breast cancer, or, at least, knows someone. It was so weird standing there thinking, “That’s me. I’m the person that this family knows. In fact, I’m the one that quite a few other people know too.”


Things happen in the world that make us look at ourselves differently. I’m not sure if we ever actually see ourselves in any different way at all, because we usually feel the same. It’s just those moments when we can almost stand outside of ourselves and say, “Oh. That’s what I am about now.”

Forever now, I will be a ‘cancer survivor’. Forever I will bear the physical scars. Forever I will know what it feels like to have to face this disease/condition. Forever I will have a respect for anyone who goes through any form of treatment.

Yet I will still be me. Completely. But not.

If anyone were to ask me how this cancer thing has changed me as a person, I would have to think about how to answer.

Obviously, I have been changed physically. That is, perhaps, the easy part. I think I also have a greater awareness of a kind of ‘why not me?’ about the world. We do tend to think things happen to other people.

I cannot say that I suddenly have developed an overwhelming sense of living in the minute and appreciating every single moment to the full. Funnily enough, I think I tend to live like that to a degree. I am definitely more aware of the value of things that we do with, and for, those we love and will not ever regret any of those.

I have definitely learnt (more) patience and to accept that waiting for the correct option is the best thing to do at times. I have also developed an even healthier appreciation for the professionals who offer us services that literally save our lives.

I have truly understood the function and effect of initiatives like PINKDRIVE. My cancer was handled with an extremely effective and specific protocol – much of which has to have been developed in direct relation to the research that initiatives like this do. One of the huge reasons for me being as healthy as I am now, is directly due to who has gone before me and the type of research done by initiatives like this.

I have an even greater sense of not being alone. I have always understood that ‘no man is an island’ and this whole experience has cemented that for me. We all function within different communities and that is where we get a lot of our strength.

A huge impact for me has been the strengthening of my sense of being part of different communities in the world – and my gratitude for that.

The greatest impact this cancer thing has had on me, I think, has not been to change me, but to make me live again and again the upset of having to see the effect on those closest to me. And to know how much closer this has brought us.

It’s a strange thing, cancer. As much as it is destructive, it is also cohesive. Thousands and thousands of people came together today to support PINKDRIVE and to spread awareness. My cancer has brought many people together in a different kind of way. It has served to further cement our family.

In the awareness of the threat that cancer brings lies the promise of closeness and support.

That is how cancer changes all of us.

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