Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Monday 16th February

No-one seems to know exactly when cancer starts and for what reason. There are several risk factors for women that are linked to breast cancer. I literally have none of them – so, either I’m an anomaly, or these things just happen, risk factors or not. I think the latter is the case.

With me, the docs all said they could not tell how long the tumour was there. It seems as though it could have been growing for as little as a number of months, or even for years. It was slow-growing and not incredibly invasive. Yet.

What the docs do seem to have agreed upon is that stress is a hugely contributing factor with cancer and that the stress from so much happening last year could very well have exacerbated the growth of the tumour. And that was the stress before actually finding the cancer!

The horrible and even frightening thing is that I didn’t feel incredibly stressed and worried all the time. We don’t always feel like that when big things happen. Stress is just there and our inner workings feel it much more keenly than our conscious may even acknowledge.

I would love to be able to lead a stress-free life, especially as there will always be the thought somewhere in the back of my mind that stress and cancer may go hand-in-hand for me – at least, they may have. It’s not possible, though, to completely de-stress our lives. There’s just so much going on.

Today, a colleague asked me how I cope with four kids, as she has 2, which is just about all she can handle. Later in the day, when I was dealing with the fourth issue for the fourth kid, I thought of her question. My answer is simple: you just take it as it comes.

I suppose it’s like that with most things. I firmly believe in planning for tomorrow, and even next year, but so much happens in between that we just have to take the hand we are dealt and work through the things that have to be done. Dealing with one day at a time and the things that happen to us then, is enough for us.

Stress, however, doesn’t leave us alone. There are always pressures – from work, the world around us and family. If only we could each understand the impact we have on others and try to make things as balanced as possible, perhaps things would be a little different.

Other than that, we can only forge ahead and try, wherever possible, to find ways of de-stressing. Magazines (and people) talk about taking ‘time out for yourself’ – just sitting quietly and letting yourself be. I am so bad at that. I am so bad at sitting still. I need to be doing something, so, for me, time for myself includes things like running, paddling and even just going for a walk.

It also includes sitting with the kids and watching an episode of Glee 😉

I will always live with the threat of cancer. I have known what it is like and don’t want to go there again. There are no guarantees in life, but I will do everything I can to make damn sure that I stand as little chance of repeating the experience. If that includes consciously working towards de-stressing, it won’t be a bad thing.

If only we could have that influence over everything and really determine how we react, subconsciously as well. If only we could have that kind of influence over others and help them to keep from stressing us and themselves.

If only…

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