Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Sunday 7th June

I wonder for how long the first week or so of a month is going to register in my head as an anniversary to do with the cancer: finding the lump, the mastectomy, the mammogram and biopsy; the diagnosis.

I couldn’t routinely say without actually thinking for a second or two (or doing the calculation) exactly how many months after my birthday the 6th of each month is, but I can definitely tell exactly how many months after the mastectomy it is, since my birthday last year.

This is what happens when something large and rather unusual (and stressful) befalls us.

I’m pretty sure that this won’t go on forever, that it is about dealing with the events and making sense of life as it goes on. I think it must be quite telling that I can’t say how many days or weeks it is since the operations, but measure it in months.

I remember when the kids were born, how I knew exactly how many weeks each was, until it began to be about how many months. That’s when you know both you and they are growing up.

Fortunately, I never found the need to count the days after the op, although I certainly was aware of them leading up to it, mainly, I think, because it was such a period of uncertainty and ‘what ifs’ and ‘whens’. Now, the whole thing is still fresh and raw in some ways, but also feels as though it was a lifetime ago.

We took the dogs for a little walk this afternoon. Juno is always keen to lead on and show the way. Today, she seemed even more keen, maybe because she was showing Lola who’s boss. Whatever the reason, she certainly took to the roads with alacrity and a huge amount of energy. She also kept tugging at the leash, which pulled the muscles that go under my right arm – the ones damaged during the op. It was amazing (and slightly depressing) that the feeling in the muscles was so like just after the op. I sometimes do wonder if they will ever come completely right.

Then, of course, my thoughts go back to the ‘Give it time’ maxim that has seemed to rule my life in so many ways for the last 8 months or so. Time is what heals everything, they seem to say. I’m not sure that everything single thing can actually be healed. Time does definitely dull the edges of some of the rawest emotions. It only stands to reason, though, that, with something physical such as having had a muscle damaged by surgery, the body will come right, even if it is after quite a long time.

And me being so (im)patient and all that.

Still, when you have no choice but to wait and let nature (or your own body) take its course, then there is absolutely nothing else to do. You don’t have to sit around and wait, though, there is so much living to do, even with a damaged muscle.

I have decided that Mike and I have to go and play tennis soon – for fun, but also to see how my arm and side will react to using a racquet. Sometimes I wish I was either left-handed, or that the cancer had had the courtesy to come into my left boob. That, at least, would have meant I could have been doing much more activity in the meantime.

Oh well, what you cannot change, you have to accept. I am using my right arm mostly normally. I will have to just keep on working to do so and ‘give it time’!

I will try very hard not to count the days. Or even months 🙂


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