Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Wednesday 22nd July

When I sit down to write every day, I don’t plan what I am going to say. From the beginning I haven’t. It’s as though the words kind of come straight out of my head / heart through my hands onto the screen.

Sometimes, the blog just writes itself.

Tonight we went to dinner with one of the women who works in the graduate school at UFS. We were just chatting, when it emerged that she is a cancer survivor (breast cancer) of 15 years.

What a lovely chat. What an amazing lady.

For me, of course, it was as though the universe had heard me. What came to mind was also, “God works in mysterious ways…”

For a while, I have been feeling that I really would like to talk to someone who has gone through this, someone who knows, with whom I can empathise, truly – and swop ‘war stories’.

Today she was there.

We had a lovely chat and I found a lot of, not comfort, but absolutely identifying with her description of her thoughts and feelings during her experience with cancer. I found that I was able to ask some of the questions to which I have been looking for answers. The truth is that I never actually received definitive answers, because this cancer thing is SO individual. I am beginning to think that I will never be able to get any sort of ‘final’ or ‘correct’ answer from anyone else, but that I will have to continue to listen to what I am told and to draw my own conclusions in relation to my own symptoms and experiences.

It is so enriching, though, to talk to a cancer survivor – as one myself, but I also think it is so for anyone. Having ‘been there’ does give one a particularly deep understanding.  I find this when I speak to Bridget: our scenarios are completely different and her treatment is way more hectic than mine was, yet we are both the same in so many ways.

Cancer is a great leveller. At the same time it is incredibly uplifting. It helps one to see the world just that little bit differently and to understand things like threats and disease from even a fractionally altered perspective.

I think that it would simply be weird for someone to welcome having had cancer, more than anything because there are so many ‘poopie’ things that go with it. Also, of course, there is that sense that it never ever completely goes away – at least the sense of threat doesn’t (as was confirmed this evening for me again).

Having had cancer, though, I am strangely extremely grateful for all the lessons it has taught me and, particularly, for the people I have either met, or made special contact with, because of it.

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