Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Wednesday 17th June

I was reminded today that there is no timeframe for mourning and that making sense of anything, especially when it involves losing someone important to you, or having to deal with the idea of someone you love having an encounter with something classified under that wonderful term ‘dread disease’.

There is no plan, no way of doing things, no ‘right  answer’ – especially when so many things happen in the space of a year that there really is no time to process anything properly.

So much about being human is a ‘how long is a piece of string’ situation: everyone is unique, everyone has individual ways of coping with situations; everyone needs different things at different times.

And we all have our own coping mechanisms.

I sometimes feel as though I am making heavy weather of this whole cancer thing, or the aftermath of the treatment (however it should be described). At least, I’m not sure that is that I am making heavy weather, or that others may perceive it as such. If I mention anything like this to the girls, they immediately remind me that it was a harsh treatment I went through and that having a mastectomy is not a small thing.

I suppose part of the whole thing is that I don’t know how this is supposed to go. I don’t know what the recovery period should be. I just know how I feel and what is happening to me. This is, if possible, the ultimate ‘how long is a piece of string’ experience. There really is no correct answer, or ‘norm’ to relate to, as everyone, every situation, every experience with cancer is different from anyone else’s.

I saw a friend today who had a mastectomy about two years ago. When I told her that everything under my arm still feels swollen and, if not sore, at least uncomfortable, she said that she still feels it sometimes – and I don’t think she had the lymph nodes removed.

It really was a kak operation.

I suppose the thing is that this is my reality. If I still feel the effects of the operation and still experience the side effects of the chemo drugs, that is just how it is. I need to be able to negotiate everything as well as I can as I go along.

This is just as all of us need to be allowed (and able) to work through the horrible events of last year in the ways that will make things easier for us and that, in the long run, will allow us each some form of healing.

So much about life is not easy. It is time that matters and, as I am reminded again and again, the length of time required for anything to re-establish some form of normality is undetermined; it depends on the individual, the situation and the way each of us deals with things.

Everything, ultimately, is about ‘a piece of string’.

Leave a Reply

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