Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Thursday 10th September

Today is Mum’s birthday. Today we all miss her so very much.

Today I went to the oncologist for a checkup.

To quote the doc, “You are very well and I am happy.”

Yay! Isn’t that just the thing you want to hear from your doctor?

When I go to the oncologist, I find that it is with quite a high degree of nervousness. Partly, I think this is to do with a slight sense of ‘what if’.  Like today, although I mostly knew that this was only a checkup and that everything would be fine, there was still that slight sense of foreboding because there is always, I suppose, the smallest chance that the blood tests may have shown something, or that the doctor actually finds something to be concerned about. Also, though, the oncology centre just holds memories of the chemo and has connotations of discomfort.

Everything is on track, though, and I am doing well.

I find that my reaction to the doc is slightly ambivalent. Today, I was extremely chuffed to hear the expert say what I basically know, which is that I am doing well. There really is something about hearing it from the mouth of the expert! At the same time, though, although he told me that he considers me to be a normal person, I know that I am not normal – at least, that there are things still wrong with me, or, at least, things still affecting me as a result of the treatment for the cancer. The two main things are my tiredness and the discomfort under my arm. I almost desperately want the doc to acknowledge these and to give me some indication as to when everything might, finally, get better.

Which, of course, he can’t – beyond saying that everything is dependent on the individual and there are no norms, patterns or averages.

I find this all a bit frustrating.

Then, of course, there is the fact that what the examination reveals is that I have put on weight. This is to do with a lot of things, one of which is the medication I am on (and my age and stage of life). This, along with the tiredness etc, just makes me feel so damn resentful about this whole cancer thing.

I don’t think, “It’s not fair! Why me?” I haven’t felt like that through this whole thing, which is not a fatalistic kind of acceptance that these things happen, rather a practical way of looking at it: it happened to me and that is just how it is. I do, however, feel irritated that, because of some horribly insidious disease/condition that targeted me for some reason, there is so much fall out. Some of it is rather large and some is small, really, but means a lot to me.

On the other hand, though, resentment is such an unproductive emotion. I could get bogged down with it and, I suppose, that the situation actually it isn’t fair. There is so much about life that is not fair, though, and we have to take what we can and make things happen that will move us beyond where we find ourselves.

Okay, so I have been affected because of the cancer thing. I am still not completely normal. Some things take time, though, and I need to do what I can to make everything better, even if it takes that time and lots of patience (at which I am, of course, not so very good, but I am learning!).

Having a check up today and the reaction of others brought it home to me again that this cancer thing is not about one person, it cannot be. It is like a huge spider’s web that has the ‘patient’ at the centre, with outward spiralling groups of people all linked to the centre and to each other in different ways and to different degrees.

I am happy that I have been given the ‘rubber stamp’ by the oncologist again – so are the family, perhaps even more so 😉 And that is their role in all this, I think. It is never easy to watch someone you care about go through illness, or any kind of discomfort. The cancer thing is close to me, of course, but it also resonates with everyone around me. My progress is their progress. My ‘green light’ is theirs too.

Isn’t that how families work?




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