Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Friday 12th June

Here’s a question: When it comes to yourself, whose opinion matters most?

We all know that there are different realities out there, different understandings and different perceptions that we each hold. Even if someone’s opinion is the same as mine, there will be subtle differences because I will see things just that little bit differently from anyone else.

So, if the topic, or thought, is actually about me, who gets to choose whose reality is the correct one?

Since the beginning of this cancer thing, I have felt a little like everything’s been happening around and about me, but not with me being in any amount of control. (And me being the control freak that I am 😉 ) I think that this has been inevitable, because there is a way of diagnosing the extent, type and degree of threat of a cancer and then there are different ways of treating it. I never felt that decisions were made about me without me being in on the reasoning and the final choices. It was, for instance, definitely my choice to have the mastectomy, as opposed to a lumpectomy and radiation. (I was guided by the doc’s recommendation, but he would have gone with the less radical option if I had preferred it.) Then, when it came to the chemo, there was talk about doing tests for the human genome to ascertain the degree of threat of breast cancer to me. I specifically asked to have the chemo, instead of going through all that testing, waiting and expense.

So, I made key decisions. Still, though, the nett result of the cancer thing has been to leave me feeling a little bit like things have happened that have been out of my control, which is something I tend to find a bit difficult.

Then, of course came the chemo and all the side-effects and, now, the after-effects. Since the beginning of the ‘feeling kak’ process, I have felt very wussy and, as Dad would say, ‘feak and weeble’. In the beginning, I suppose that I could accept it more because I was well aware of the toxicity entering my system. (What someone has written in a blog I’ve read is that they don’t call it the ‘Red Devil’ for nothing!) I suppose that, if I had taken to my sick bed during the whole chemo thing, I may have felt a little better and a bit more in control (in some ways), but definitely not any less ‘pathetic’.

Now, so many months after the last chemo, I find it actually upsetting that I still get so tired. I think the kids laugh at me when I tend to pass out in the later evening, because there is just this wave of exhaustion that overcomes me. Everyone is into doing the Park Runs, which I would normally have been able to run quite easily, if not competitively. 5kms is not a huge distance to navigate.

But, no. Here I am still unable to physically run more than, perhaps, 3kms on a good day (I still have good and bad days) and, even then, not at all fast. I feel tired most of the time and do tend to become overwhelmingly exhausted in the evening.

I feel, to put it mildly, pathetic some of the time.

Yesterday, in the car, Paul, Sarah and Dani were adamant that I am the only one who thinks that about me – and, therefore, my opinion is not valid.

I completely understand and appreciate the idea, the sentiment and the support. They are most probably right. I still think that, as Sarah and Dani pointed out a while ago, none of us actually understand what the drugs have done to my body – even me. I also remember the oncologist giving me the sage advice to ‘give it time’.

All of that makes sense. I read on one of the ‘cancer blogs’ that it can take up to a year, or more, for the tiredness caused by the Red Devil to disappear completely, which also seems to be making sense. I suppose that it can also take up to a long while for this damn chemo taste to disappear completely, too.

I am also not completely convinced that the hormone drugs are not taking their own toll on my body.

There is so much reason to not feel normal. There is so much understanding of what I have gone through and how I must have reacted. There is so much support. And I think they are right: I am most probably the only one who feels as I do.

That is the difference, though. I don’t necessarily think that I am a wus (or pathetic etc), I feel it and there is a difference. I feel that I want to get back to normal. I feel as though I have been a ‘patient’ for such a long time now. I feel sad and a little overwhelmed sometimes by this ongoing taste in my mouth, which, when it’s bad, I can taste with every breath. I don’t feel normal, which is what I would desperately like to feel.

As I say that, though, I feel like a fraud, too. My experience has been horrible, but it has not been the most long-lasting, taxing, or terrible thing that people go through. What about Bridget, who is a good few months into her treatment and still has many to go? What about people who live with debilitating diseases and who know they will never, ever feel ‘normal’ again? What about everyone else out there?

So, with that kind of perspective, I know that I have nothing, really, to be concerned, or to complain, about. I have been lucky. My ‘ordeal’ has not been that arduous and has not lasted that long. I am cured of this disease/condition and can only get better.

Sometimes, though, the reality is mine and I suppose that I am allowed to perceive things as being about me.

Just sometimes.


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