Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Monday 7th September

It was confirmed for me again today that cancer is not something you should do alone. In fact, the more support you have, the more negotiable the steps of the journey become.

This is true of many things, I think, particularly those that challenge us, or send us on journeys that are hard to take, or during which we encounter difficulties.

I saw the OT today, because I have been bugged by the ‘lump under my arm’ feeling for the last 11 months, or so – obviously not enough that I have rushed off to get medical advice, but also enough so that I have not been convinced that what is going on is all normal.

That is the problem, though: there is no average, ‘normal’ in this situation – cancer is so unique and so is every person, that the expectations, effects and healing timeframes differ literally from person-to-person. It does emerge, though, that the pulling feeling I have in my right arm means that I need to do stretches; and that there is likely to be some swelling in the ‘lump area. This means doing exercises and learning how to manage the swelling.

More visits to professionals. More things to do.

This is not a short-term thing, this cancer thing.

When I was talking to the OT, it struck me (as it has previously) that there is something missing in this whole cancer journey – at least, there has been in mine: one doctor who has been the ‘go to’ and ‘carry on seeing you’ person. Each of the professionals I have seen has done their job excellently and has achieved great results. They have all, also, had a very specific role, which has ended at a particular point. This all makes sense, but then you reach the 6-month time slot and the question arises about ‘Is this normal?’ or ‘What can I expect?’ and there is not a single, continuous presence through the journey who can easily answer the questions.

Small problem.

It’s as though we need to have a kind of ‘family doctor’ for cancer ‘patients’ (or people who have had cancer), someone who will just be there throughout the process and who will offer guidance – and who will know.

I should have been doing a programme of exercises with a biokineticist for a while now, apparently. There may be other things I should have been doing.

Nobody actually tells you these things, though – not through any form of forgetting to, or anything, just because there is not really a ‘role’ in this cancer drama for that kind of person.

And yet, I wish there were.

There is a lot that you find out on the way and from experience, or from talking to other people who’ve had cancer. Otherwise, it is kind of experience, surmise and just do.

Without the individuals to actually ask the questions of when they arise, though, and without the many conversations that happen in all different ways, the journey would be so much more difficult.

There may not be a central, guiding figure through the journey, but there are definitely many ‘go to’ people.


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