Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Wednesday 10th June

Being a doctor’s daughter, I don’t often google medical things, knowing that there are so many different definitions, explanations, bits of advice etc out there and all of them can be confusing and, even, damaging and, maybe, a little dangerous.

For those, and other, reasons, I have studiously avoided googling anything to do with the cancer. Well, mostly. Sometimes I did succumb, but more for interest than looking for the gospel.

It’s different when I want to know, I mean really know, that I am really not alone and that there are other people out there who have gone through this or similar and can really relate to what I am feeling. Or can actually give me a straight answer about what to expect, or what may happen. I think that is why Bridget and I find it easy to chat about this, because we both know that the other knows.

I found a blog about breast cancer written by a survivor. It is interesting and also a little freaky to read about someone else’s experience and opinion – mostly, I think, because it brings everything back so vividly.

One of the posts on the blog refers to another site that asks, ‘What would you say to your cancer?’ It made me think about the whole process of almost personifying the disease / condition – making it something to be dealt with in and of itself, not as a scary concept, but as an individual enemy that can be vanquished.

I think many things are like that in life. So often something comes our way and it just freaks us out, mostly because it seems to be huge and insurmountable. If there is a way to ‘get a handle’ on even a part of the bigger concept, to break it down into smaller chunks, or to see it not as a huge ‘cloud’ of an idea, but as a definable, single ‘thing’ that can be understood and managed, then everything takes on a new meaning. Everything becomes more possible, particularly dealing with whatever life has thrown your way.

When I was first diagnosed, it was terribly shocking, scary and upsetting – for everyone. I think a lot of this was because one generally associates cancer with death. Also, though, I think the very idea of ‘cancer’ is so huge that it seems like an impenetrable cloud of horrible things and speaks directly to our own fears of mortality. When there was a little more clarity and the tumour itself could be defined and understood as an entity sitting in my boob, then the ‘cancer monster’ started to become a little more manageable. There was always the threat and the uncertainty of possible spread. After the lymph node biopsy, that was also pretty much contained.

The sense of threat never went away. The cancer was not reduced as a disease / condition that had possible horrible effects. It still held the fear for all of us. However, understanding my cancer a bit more and exactly how it was sitting in my body made it less of a concept and more of an individual entity that was vulnerable and could be treated and got rid of.

Which it was. Resoundly.

There is so much more threat in something that we don’t completely understand and what we can only ‘see’ from the edge of a huge cloud, relate to as a concept. What we have to do is to understand individual problems, issues, diagnoses as just that – individual – and find ways to reduce them in hugeness and, bit-by-bit, as necessary to break them down and overcome them. And to win.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *