Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Sunday 1st March

It’s amazing to be in two similar situations and observe two completely different behaviours and live through two completely different experiences. Depends so much on how people see things and how much everyone is willing to give and take.

It also depends on your own experience and what it has taught you.

Yesterday at the Shavathon, it was interesting to see the number of people observing the goings-on, but not taking part. It’s not like the whole thing is about shaving your head, which can be intimidating – there are plenty of ways to become involved, even if it’s only buying the buff for R15.

We’ve always supported the Shavathon, just because we have. Maybe in some ways that was unconsciously prophetic, but I don’t believe in things working fatalistically like that. I reckon I would have got the cancer in any case.

It did make me think about our family’s experience of cancer, though. We all know it exists. There is a lot of media attention paid to raising awareness. Even then, it’s always at that one-remove. It’s only when you have had it affect someone really close to you that you really, really begin to understand the impact, though.

Maybe the people observing the Shavathon are those lucky enough to not have had a close encounter with the disease/condition. Maybe they just don’t completely understand.

Then, of course, there is the completely different experience one has when it is you with the cancer. The threat is so much closer, so much more real. It’s no longer about just raising awareness, or research, or treatment – it’s about you.

And the threat never goes away. At least, I don’t see how it will.

Every time I hear a story about someone who knows someone who had cancer and was clear after treatment, but then got a recurrence years later, a ‘gril’ goes through me. There is always that thought (somewhere in the recesses of my brain): Will that happen to me? If I’ve had this once, will it happen again?

I don’t feel anxious about this all the time. I’m not even conscious that it is a concern, until there is a trigger. Then I want to escape the thought.

I suppose that is my altered reality. I will always feel like that – somewhere.

I will always be sure, though, that this cancer has gone. I will always also do what needs to be done to be aware and prepared if I ever get it again.

The same circumstance can be experienced so differently by anyone, depending on their position, experience and history.

If only we all had the ability to understand that and to allow for those different reactions.

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