Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Friday 20th March

Sometimes we feel so very ordinary, so ‘just’ what we are – nothing really different, nothing special. And I think we don’t realise how very special we are.

I spoke to my uncle today. He told me that he wasn’t doing anything particular – had just followed his usual routine of getting up, then feeding the birds, then feeding the dogs, then feeding himself. Even in that, though, there is something particular, something special. He will make a difference to something / someone and that, alone, makes him not just simply ordinary.

At the school’s SGB elections this week, everyone seemed to be a lawyer, CEO, financial person, high achiever etc etc, until a friend of mine stood up. She said she was nothing of the above, but is a mother who is passionate about what she does. Nearly three quarters of the parents present voted for her. In what she sees as her very ordinariness lie the special qualities that others value.

I think we are all like this.

In terms of ‘cancer patients’ as a group, I have had it relatively easy. I often say that, if one has to have breast cancer, then this is the way to do it. Even as I say that, I feel a bit guilty that I am cast in the same bracket as other women who have battled and survived far greater challenges than I have and have had far harsher treatment than me.

Then I think about what has happened to me.

I had cancer, plain and simple. Nowhere is it written that one has to have a certain stage of the disease/condition, or to have undergone a certain degree of treatment to be considered a cancer survivor. I was just a lot luckier than some. It happened to me, though. It was real and was upsetting and, actually, continues to be so.

David is studying the whole thing about breast cancer at the moment and is finding out more than he wants to know, I think. He is immensely glad that he did not know all of it before I had cancer. I can imagine that it must be very interesting, but also very stressful for him.

It has also made him look at me and the whole experience in yet another light. He sent me the most wonderful message about how he admires the way I have remained myself and come out the other side just the same. He says: “And it is never over, but at the end of it all, you’re exactly the same as you were before.”

I hope so. I truly do.

There is no doubt that this whole thing has changed me, not only physically, but we are who we are and I only know one way of doing life – whether it is fighting cancer, dealing with chemo, or just doing the ordinary.

When I had a bone density scan this week, the radiographer asked me about my experience and we chatted a bit. She asked me if I had gone for counselling and I said no. She said I must be a strong person. I know that I take after Mum, so she may just be correct. 🙂

She also said that I should tell my story, because it just may save someone’s life.

That made me think. I may have had all the ‘good’ things about breast cancer and sometimes feel that twinge of guilt, but it was still cancer and that is a scary thing. It is not easily dealt with. What has happened to me is real and, that alone makes me special in my ordinariness.


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