Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Sunday 3rd May

Every so often, I get a hint of just how deep-seated feelings can be, that we aren’t even aware we may have – and of how much they need to come to the surface sometimes.

I went for a run this evening. The light was beautiful and the air remarkably warm. My legs and knees won’t let me run too far at the moment, but it was really nice to be out and about, especially after doing pretty much nothing today (after all the running around at SA Schools). When I run, I listen to music and generally zone out: kind of mind in neutral and let the running happen. Today it was a little different, though. Firstly, I had to walk part of the way, because I still get tired when I run. Then, I found thoughts coming into my mind unbidden – about the cancer and then about Mum.

I know that I miss Mum terribly, so those thoughts weren’t unusual to have. It’s nearly a year since she went and so much has actually happened in that time. I still can’t believe it, though, and I still miss her so very, very much. I don’t always think about that, at least not consciously. It’s always a kind of presence in my mind and, sometimes, it comes to the surface and I feel so heartsore, or I cry.

My feelings about the cancer are different, though. I’m not sure how I feel some of the time. I definitely don’t go around dwelling on the fact that I had cancer, nor do I concentrate on the fact that I only have one boob. I do feel the discomfort all the time, but even that I don’t seem to notice every single moment of every single day. I do know that I am sad about what happened and that it would have been really nice if it had not. I also know that I feel more vulnerable in many ways – to the idea of cancer in itself and when people talk about recurrences.

Today, though, I found out that I feel really upset and even a little angry that I have had a mastectomy and all that goes with it. I know I can’t change it and I’d far rather this and having had the cancer treated early and decisively than having found it later on and having had to have other treatment and other uncertainties. I often say, if one has to have cancer, then this is the good way to have had it. Deep down, though, it obviously still upsets me. I found myself crying while I was running today, at the thoughts that filtered into my consciousness.

I’m sure this is all normal and I know that I have the right to feel strongly about what happened. I think it’s also good to have the feelings and to be able to acknowledge then and even work through them. I’m sure it’s all part of the healing process.

I am also sure that this is all affected on by the fact that I am going to have an ultrasound of my boob and non-boob this week, just as a follow-up; and I am going to have a gastroscopy and colonoscopy on Friday. These are routine, but I think the thought of ‘The last time I was in hospital…’ is affecting the way I look at things.

The scopes are my own choice, based on the doctor’s recommendations, given my age and family history. And that I last had them 9 years ago. With older age comes the need to be checked out every so often!

There are things you can’t change and just have to make the most of. I cannot change the fact that I had the operations and have to live with different types of scars. I can continue moving forwards and upwards, though, as I have through the whole process.

I just need to allow myself to have the ‘crying jags’ when my psyche needs them. With all of that, I can only heal.

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