Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Friday 31st July

Another month over. Another month closer to Christmas. Another month closer to a year since the whole cancer thing began.

In many ways, I cannot believe it is already so long ago that the lump was found and all the excitement of the journey began; in others, it feels as though it all began just yesterday.

Mostly, though, I find that I almost cannot believe that everything happened to me that did happen.  Time is a strange thing.

My birthday is also only just over 2 months away. 🙂

When I was talking to my students about the cancer thing, I found myself re-visiting the concept of being ‘normal’, which I have thought (and spoken) about a lot in the last number of months. At first it was about trying to maintain some sense of being tough and capable and doing what I would normally be able to do when it came to clearing out Mum’s house. Back then (I sound like an ‘old-timer’), I think I was concerned on two fronts: one that I was not pulling my weight, because I was either coughing and trying to get better so that I could have an operation; or because I was recovering from an operation and my muscles having been cut; or I was not feeling quite up to real life because I had had chemo. I suppose that’s quite a combination of reasons for not being able to ‘move mountains’ (or, at least, furniture). The second ‘front’ was a feeling of not being able to do as much exercise as I had been doing. Of course, having had a couple of operations, it was pretty logical that I would have to face a period of getting over the procedures and then ‘getting my strength up’.

All through chemo and the aftermath, I have been feeling frustrated on the second front. I think part of this is a feeling of resentment towards the cancer. I was not sick. At least, not in any ‘usual’ way. Because of the insidious enemy, though, I had to have muscles cut and messed around, that still haven’t recovered; I had to be subjected to a horribly invasive drug, which is still apparently working its way out of my body; I have also been pretty much exhausted (to varying degrees) for a long time now.

Given all that, ‘normal’ takes on a different meaning. Nobody’s ‘normal’ is the same as another’s. Nobody’s ‘normal’ remains static.

Last week at the workshop, one of the students commented on how much energy I have. That is one comment that has been made about me over the years in various ways. Maybe my ‘normal’ has not changed that much, then. At least, not to those outside.

In me, I know it has changed. Sometimes, the way I react to what someone says, or to something I hear just tells me that. At others, it is just something I know within me. Then, of course, there is the fact that I cannot run as far or as fast as before (ditto paddle).

All of this just serves to highlight the fact that nothing is static and we have to constantly re-adjust in some ways to simply be ourselves. And what could be more normal than that?


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