Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Wednesday 5th August

When I sit in a room with young people and watch their talent make something on paper come to life – especially something I have written – I am totally inspired and enamoured. There is SO much talent out there and it is wonderful to be able to offer a vehicle for at least some of it to be realised.

It is also fascinating to see students I knew a little just reveal themselves with such diverse personalities and passions.

This is what Drama and teaching offer.

I think our circumstances and contexts are responsible for so much that goes on in our lives. I suppose, actually, that that goes without saying – yet, it is something that we just take forgranted.  How many times do we take a moment to stop and contemplate where we are and what is going on around us? So often we get so deeply caught up in negotiating real life and just simply doing things that we don’t register how much what is around us and who we surround ourselves with (or who our circumstances place around us) help to shape us – and how much they offer. We don’t always really, really see the value in those people and those places and things.

I still don’t think that having cancer will necessarily change the way a person approaches life and what they do. I think, also, this is (as are most things) dependant on the type of person, their ‘cancer scenario’ and their experience through the treatment.

I know for a fact that my own experience with cancer has not fundamentally changed the way I behave and what I do. There have not been enormous adjustments in my work, eating habits, or the way I relate to people. At least, none that I would be able to pinpoint and none, I reckon, that others would pick out. To me, this is simply because life is about more than having cancer. That is one facet, one aspect, even one moment in the whole picture of our lives.

However, there is absolutely no doubt that having cancer must affect something about the way you see the world and how you approach things. Every experience, every journey you undertake, will do this to some degree.

There is something about this particular journey that sticks in the psyche, in the subconscious, and subtly alters the way you see the world forever. Cancer makes you face thoughts and fears you might otherwise never actually confront, even though they are most probably somewhere inside your brain. It takes from you, but it also gives. How much you choose to take from it, is very much up to you.

I have always done productions with students or learners over the years and loved every minute of it – even though there are inevitably many frustrations along the way (when aren’t there, when one is dealing with people?). I think that having had my own experience with cancer  has altered my percepction slightly (and permanently) of the value of interacting with, and understanding, people and the creative process.

The cancer thing does not dominate my life, but it has offered a certain tint, a slightly altered perspective, to the way I see the world. In that, it has given more than it has ever taken, and it has, perhaps strangely, enriched my life.

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