Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Friday 6th March

I always begin a countdown to my birthday – in about August or September. In fact, Mum’s birthday is on September 10th, so that is usually the signal for me to say that there are only about four weeks left to my birthday.

I have never been so conscious of how far away (or close) my birthday is as today. That’s what comes from having a mastectomy on your birthday.

It is five months today since the mastectomy.

In many ways, I feel as though it is just so close; in others, I can’t believe it’s already been that long and that so much has happened since then. In many ways, too, I am so very much better since the op; in others it feels as though there has been just about no progress with my muscles and my side.

I definitely don’t feel as though I have a tennis ball shoved up under my arm all the time anymore, but there definitely is still the feeling of a lump there and it is still puffy and seems swollen. From what I understand, this is something to do with the lymph having to find an alternative route out of my arm. It just seems to be taking forever, though.

Again, this is a very clear indicator of how big the operation was.

My whole recovery has, of course, been affected by the chemo, which has battered my body and, most probably, helped me to take time to recover.

In some ways, I wish there was a definite ‘recipe’ for this – a timeframe and set of descriptions of recovery, so that I could plot my progress along the way. The whole thing is that we are all individuals and one’s recovery will not necessarily mirror another’s. Also, there are so many different cancer scenarios, operations and treatments options, that nothing is absolutely predictable.

Here we go with the ’how long is a piece of string’ type answer again.

Nothing is absolute.

So, I sit here 6 months after the surgery, not sure how long it’s going to take for me to be completely recovered. Maybe I will never actually achieve a moment when there is no feeling of a lump, or of being duct-taped together. Maybe I will never recover all the feeling in the area around the op.

On the other hand, the doc did say it can take up to a year to get the feeling back. I suppose, it can also take that long for the tissue to settle down and for the muscles to recover.

In the meantime, I will continue paddling and running and doing what I can to keep fit and get fitter. I still listen to my body and don’t push it unless it feels okay.

That’s the only way to go. Eventually, I will get there.

Oh, and it’s seven months to my birthday! 😉

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