Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Saturday 6th June

I have a habit of not deleting the pictures on my memory sticks, even though they have been saved on my computer. Well, not easily. If I have to take pics and my stick is full, then I will go through what I have and try to delete the not so important ones.

It is a painful process, literally and psychologically.

Today I was doing just that, scrolling through the thousand / two photos on my camera to see what I could get rid of and I realised that some of the first pictures on that stick are from Mum’s birthday last year, when we went to her house for supper. That means that all the photos on the stick are, basically, a visual record of what has happened along this cancer journey, as that was the day after my cancer was diagnosed.

It’s quite a sobering thought. There, on one little electronic device, are photographs of everything from the birthday cake to the Christmas holiday in Sedge, to mundane things like a braai in the garden. In between the ‘fun’ photos are some of me in hospital and at chemo, I’m sure (I haven’t had the patience or fortitude to scroll through every single one). Underneath all the pics, underscoring them in some way, yet being absent from just about every single one, is the sense of the cancer journey: all the trauma, stress and upset; the pain and inconvenience and discomfort; and all the affirmation of life and love it focused on.

And yet, anyone who wasn’t there and sees the photos would have very little sense of that save, perhaps, a passing thought as to why my hair went.

Strange thought.

In some ways, I think life is like that. We encounter things, others, events, without ever really knowing what is going on underneath. And why should we? Everyone has ‘stuff’ that goes on all the time, but so does real life; so do parties, work and holidays.

There are so many layers to everyone and to everything we do.

This cancer thing has dominated the last 9 months of my life, in many ways, but, also, it hasn’t. There has been so much of life going on, so much living happening at the same time. And that is what it is all about.

Cancer is a reality. It has changed me, changed all of us, in many ways. But it has also just been another thing we have dealt with as we go on forging our path and just being here. My photos are a great testament to that.



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