Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Saturday 7th February

I went for a run this evening (for ‘run’, read ‘jog’), which is always good for the soul. It helped, of course, that it was a beautiful evening – one of those after rain and just light and bright and green, although the fact that they haven’t yet mowed the park down the road from us made it look a bit scruffy.

I came to a realisation while I was jogging: this whole cancer thing, as a journey, seems to have different chapters and different moments, which are actually, in their own way, perhaps able to be described, but whose boundaries are not quite so clearly discernable.

The beginning was easy in many ways, because there was no knowledge of the lump, then it was found. Whether the journey begins when I made the appointment to go to the doc, or when the lump was found, or when I was diagnosed is, I suppose, not quite clear. For me, though, I think it began when the lump was found, because I knew then what all the possible outcomes were.

Then there was what has been, I think, a kind of rollercoaster ride: the mammogram, biopsy, seeing the surgeon, lots of tests, sentinel node op, seeing the surgeon again, the mastectomy –

Perhaps that chapter ends there, because the hassles with the tissue expander and the drain seem to fall into their own category.

Then, of course, there is the chemo chapter. That has been a story all on its own. The tissue expander was out by then, so that part was over. Chemo and side effects also had a definable time. When the chapter ends, though, is not clear, as the side effects continue long after the last treatment.

Perhaps now, though, the phase / chapter I have been going through has had something to do with acceptance. I have been struck by the enormity of what has happened to me and have been projecting into the future, at times. I haven’t been freaked out by it all but the hugeness of the operation has stuck with me.

Then I had the check-up on Friday. I don’t feel overwhelmed with relief, which seems ungrateful and maybe a little weird, but it was what I expected to hear, given all the evidence and what has gone before. I am extremely pleased and am actually grateful – for so many, many reasons, not the least of which is that everything has gone according to what the docs indicated: the tumour has gone and any traces have been zapped, leaving my body clear.

There is another chapter, though, and the journey is actually far from over. I am still experiencing side effects from the chemo, which is also to be expected. Now, though, I start on the hormone therapy, which may bring its own side effects.

So, the chapter I think I am waiting for is not to come for a while – the ‘being back to myself’ chapter.

I don’t know how long this is going to take, but I do know that I am still learning lessons daily – not the least of which is to cope in the moment and make the most of everything around me.

Hence the run. I was feeling really tired, as I do every day. The evenings are usually worse, as I get up early and am active during the day. It was a beautiful evening, though, and an opportunity to ‘hit the road’ (gently) that was not to be missed.

Isn’t that what life is about? Taking opportunities, even though all the circumstances may not be completely perfect. Why not? Each day, each moment, is a gift in itself and needs to be seized.

In the epk for The Hobbit 3, Gandalf asks the question: “You have but one question to ask: How will this day end?”

The answer should, surely, be: Well, this day will end well.

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