Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Tuesday 17th March

There is something about being out on the water – no matter for how long / short a time and no matter how slowly I paddle – that helps to rejuvenate my spirit. It’s especially nice when it is a lovely evening and everything is peaceful and beautiful.

That’s what it was like today.

Tuesday is my busy day at Wits. I start at 8 and finish at 4:30. A lot of teaching – which is tiring anyway and pretty exhausting when one is still recovering from all the chemo stuff.

There is no doubt that I am so much less tired all the time than I was even about a month ago – and definitely than I was during chemo. Finally, finally it seems as though my body is turning around and saying, “Stop messing me around, I am taking charge again.” I haven’t even had the taste for a good day or two J

When I left Wits I was very tired – so many hours of active teaching can do that for a person. After I’d been to the dam and seen the girls, then had a little paddle, I felt a lot better. Sitting at the school for a protracted, interrupted and ‘driven-by-bureaucracy’ meeting didn’t even exhaust me again. Maybe, just maybe, the corner really has been turned.

I labour under no delusions of a quick and complete recovery from everything – my muscles need a lot of time and are a constant reminder of just how hard what I went through has been on me. The discomfort and occasional pain are just something that has to be lived through, though. Slowly, but surely; step-by-step.

Sometimes I am a little bitter when I am reminded again just how long and slow the whole journey is – because of something as small and as inconvenient as the cancer. Then, again, sometimes I am simply reminded just how lucky I am.

One of my students asked me how I am, as we have not chatted about the cancer thing since I was her tutor last year. Looking at the situation through her eyes, as I explained to her what has happened, I realised again just how lucky I have been – and how thorough my treatment has been – still is.

Then there are those almost surreal moments. At the school this evening, I walked past a parent who I knew, briefly, a few years ago. She looked at me and said, “You’ve cut your hair.” What could I do except smile? I could have said, “Actually, it’s grown quite a lot recently – in fact, it’s almost long!” But I didn’t. She obviously didn’t know about the cancer and I wasn’t going to say, “Actually, no, it all fell out with the chemo.”

I have hair now. It’s really, really short, but it is there – and, apparently, doesn’t look all that weird anymore, or all that different.

Perhaps I am back, with a few rough edges that will get sorted out in time, but the ‘me’ I’ve been looking for is right here – boobless (well, one boob anyway), scarred and a little physically strained still, but here nonetheless. And going nowhere. Except upwards!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *