Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Wednesday 27th May

Note to self: next time you notice your ipod is flat, charge it!

I set off for a run today, the first time in a couple of weeks, because I have had a cold and have been being eminently sensible and not overdoing it. I usually run with music, as this helps me to zone out a bit and just run, without thoughts zooming around in my head.

Well, not today.

My ipod was totally out of juice even before I got to the front gate.

So I ran without music. The net result of this was that all those thoughts kept wafting in and out of my mind. Topmost of these was a huge feeling of resentment against cancer. It’s funny, but when I get in these moods, however briefly, I don’t find myself thinking ‘Why me?’ and resenting the fact that it had to happen to me of all people. I suppose part of that could be that, if it wasn’t me, then it would have had to be someone else and I sincerely wouldn’t want anyone else to go through all that. I find that it’s a general resentment against the disease and the fallout is causes (no pun).

Apart from the medical costs (thank goodness for Medical Aid!), having had cancer has literally cost me money, mainly because I wasn’t able to work properly during the whole treatment and so didn’t earn regularly. It’s also caused pain and upset to quite a few people – the effects of which I can still see sometimes in others.

What really annoys me, though, is that I am unable to put my right arm at my side without feeling a lump under it and I get this damn chemo taste quite badly for a couple of days at a time every-so-often. I also still get so tired so easily.

And yet, those are not huge things. The feeling of the lump is strangely familiar and the taste does go away. The tiredness has its moments. Overall, I am better than I have been and am getting steadily stronger and fitter. Well, mostly. This week I have felt as though I’ve taken about 22 steps backwards!

Then I start feeling like a fraud. I spoke to my cousin tonight. She has completed her 4 cycles of the red devil and is having her second of the weekly treatments of the other drug tomorrow. The second of 12. She still has to face surgery and treatment after that.

Who the hell am I to complain?

At the same time, though, I do think that everything that happens to a person is so real for them and affects them in ways even they may not understand – and definitely, often, cannot anticipate. Everyone has the right to their feelings and to make sense of their experiences in their own way.

I was lucky with my cancer. It was found early and was very contained. There is always the ‘what if’ factor: What if I had not gone to see the doc? What if I had actually been going overseas with the Canoe Polo team, would I even have gone for a check up last year?

The answers are that I did go and the cancer was found and has been properly treated. Lucky, lucky me. It feels great to know this. I am still glad that, if it had to happen to one of us, it was to me and not to my sisters, or anyone else in the family.

Small things, maybe, to be happy about.

I will still feel resentful at times, any human would. I will also feel immensely grateful. Both of those feelings come out of having had cancer and that means that the whole thing cannot have been wholly bad.


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