Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Thursday 23rd July

There is something about waking up with the sound of rain on the roof that is so special. Part of the feeling is of comfort; part is the sort of feeling of ‘let me snuggle down in bed and just stay here’; part is also the thought that I hope the heavy rain ceases at the time I have to leave the building.

In South Africa, I think rain is always welcome on some level.

This morning, it rained heavily in Bloem. There were quite a few puddles to negotiate from the hotel to the car and from the car to the university building. Luckily, the precipitation itself was not very hard at either time and we didn’t get very wet. During the morning, the sun shone a bit, but when we were still inside.

Inclement weather is never encouraging for flying and I must say that thoughts of turbulence haunted me a little during the day. We flew on time, however, (miracles do happen!) and the flight was very smooth. In fact, the only turbulence was over Joburg.

Rain, I think, is a bit like life.

The sound of rain on the roof builds up one sort of expectation – often, for me, that it is quite heavey. especially on a tin roof. So, you think you’re going to get really wet. Then, when you step outside, you realise that the sound was actually a bit deceptive and the precipitation is not as hard as it seemed to be and things look up because you’re not going to get as wet as you thought you may.

So it is with quite a lot of things in life: the expectation is not necessarily as harsh, or demanding as the reality. In some ways, I suppose the cancer thing can be like that. I think it is very difficult to shake off the ‘cancer-death’ thoughts when confronted by the reality. It is like one of the students put it today: “Cancer chooses you.” Then, of course, you find out that there are a whole range of cancers, a whole lot of different scenarios and lots and lots of treatment options. The reality is not quite what the perception suggested.

There are other ways in which cancer becomes even more like the rain, only it’s not about the perception and the reality, it’s more like reading the signs and realising that it is going to rain and just how much. With cancer, it’s the question of finding it and ‘reading’ the signs to determine the treatment.

We can predict the weather. Mostly. We cannot predict cancer – as I found out, seeing as I had not one of the risk factors. We can, however, put things in place and take actions that will enable us to detect the approaching storm before all hell breaks loose.

That is the value of research into the disease/condition. And that is the message everyone should get. This insidious enemy is treatable and controllable, but, like the weather, it tends to creep up on us if we are not on the lookout.


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