Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Learning to Accept

The one thing that cancer definitely does is to teach a whole lot of lessons. The greatest of these is, I think, acceptance. Or, at least, the necessity for some degree of acceptance.

When you are diagnosed with cancer, there are a number of choices that can be made, I suppose. The first of these is definitely how to deal with the reality. I’m sure that there are almost as many different ways of reacting as there are people who receive the diagnosis – a lot of which depends on the type, extent and degree of the cancer. On one level, though, there is only one thing to react to, at least immediately: the thought of ‘cancer’ actually being in your body.

For me, there was only one way to react (after the first shock and the tears) and that was to accept that this was real and to look at what happens next and what to do.

My journey with cancer began, specifically I suppose, with the diagnosis. For me, though, it was more like it began when the lump was found. Even then, I knew there was something – even though I did not completely confront the options.

I know with things like an addiction, the first step towards recovery is to acknowledge that there is a problem. With something like cancer, this step is taken for you. It is up to you to accept the reality of something you cannot see and can, usually, only conceptually understand. It is, in many ways, about taking a leap of faith.

I am now in the situation where all that is behind me – and I still have absolutely no sense of the actual cancer. I do have plenty of evidence of the effects it has had on me. The latest is this vein (or something) in my arm that has hardened (or thrombosed, or whatever) and pulls. There is also the ongoing swelling under my arm. These have been treated which has, of course, led to conversations about lymphoedoema – another thing to accept about the effects of, at least, my type of cancer.

From the beginning, it would have been easy to block my mind to many of the details, I suppose. That would have been incredibly short-sighted and completely unproductive, though.

There are some things you can choose to ignore, or to reject, even if they happen to you. Cancer is not one of these. I suppose you could go into denial and choose to ignore what you are told. Or you can take that leap and listen to the experts and do what must be done to get rid of the invader.

Even if there is fallout for the rest of your life.


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