Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Friday 3rd July

Today was a good day at Sedge.

I can’t help remembering the last time we were here, in December. I was in-between chemos and wasn’t feeling very well quite a lot of the time. I also was not in the state to be able to run very far or efficiently and did not feel at all normal.

I went for a run this morning and was quite happy going along for most of the route I normally run when we are down here. I was really disappointed when I found that I was just too tired to carry on running and had to walk for a section. I just thought that it’s 6 months now, surely I must be able to get fit again…

I don’t think that any of us who go through the Red Devil truly understand exactly how harsh it is and what it does to our bodies. Until we have to live through the ongoing effects. I truly look forward to the day when I don’t get so damn tired from simply running (for that, read ‘jog’) 2 kms.

Sometimes I think that it must seem that I spend all my time dwelling on the cancer thing and what has happened to me, without, perhaps, allowing myself to move on. It must seem as though I am so caught up by the enormity of what happened to me and how it is still affecting me that it is all I think about.

Well, that would be totally untrue. Of course, I am aware very often of the reality of getting over chemo, living with only having one boob and the uncomfortable presence of cancer that never, ever goes away. I do not dwell on all of this, though. I think it is the discipline and process of writing every day that makes me look carefully at what I have gone through and to really try to get in touch with how it has affected me (and continues to do so).

People are complex beings and we deal with so much on so many levels all the time. To be aware of the cancer thing does not mean to be driven by it and to dwell on it. To speak about what has happened and how I feel does not mean that I cannot move beyond it and do ‘normal’ life.

I do all of that – the moving on and negotiating real life – all the time, while still making sense of the whole cancer thing in my own head and with my own heart.

I got a completely new perspective on this all today. Bridget left me a message saying that she is so enjoying seeing me get better and do normal, healthy, wonderful things. I suppose, in some ways, some of this whole thing becomes about seeing someone else who has been there and has made sense of the cancer journey and come out the other side. Bridget’s scenario is more intense than mine was and her treatment is longer and more demanding. That does not diminish the parallels and the fact that we both speak the same language and from the definite position of actual experience.

Each gives the other strength.

She is me in about a year or two, if I had not gone for the check up, if the lump had not been found and if it had not been caught and banished as early as it was. There is a degree of ‘there but for the grace of God…’ about all this. And yet, there is also the idea of ‘this can be done’.

Similarly, someone else is undoubtedly Bridge, if her cancer had not been found and treated and eradicated (as it will be).

There is always someone else who has been there too and to whom we can relate. Their story may be different from mine and their journey may have different steps along the way. Cancer is cancer, though and all of us who survive take many of the same steps as each other. The difference in degree of each step does not alter the fact that our journeys are at once unique and common. And that, to survive, is the end point to which we all travel willingly, no matter what we have to face along the way.

So, I will jog along as I can and walk when I need to. I will, though, quite simply keep moving forwards.

Onwards and upwards.


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