Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Wednesday 9th September

A year ago today, I got the results of the pathology: the lump was malignant.

It felt then as though so much had suddenly changed; and, yet, I had kind of known since the lump was found on the Friday. When I had the first inkling about the malignancy, I wanted to know everything. I am the sort of person who needs to be told all the possibilities, including best and worst case scenarios, then I can position myself on the continuum and understand my options.

I think that that has been one of the hardest things for me to be able to deal with when it comes to this cancer thing: because everything is so individual, the continuum is so long and so varied, that it has not really been possible for me to understand where I sit and what that actually means.

I am still like that. Although I have an idea of how things are, what they mean and how they should progress, there are still no definites.

I still am not sure how usual it is for a person who has had a mastectomy to feel this ‘lump under the arm’ feeling, or how long it may go on for. Although I have read and heard a lot about the lingering effects of chemo on the body, and how harsh the Red Devil is, I am still not entirely sure if it is to be expected that I still get so tired running and don’t seem to be able to function as I would like to. I’m not sure that it is expected to still have the chemo taste, that has lasted for days this time around.

I like knowing things. I like understanding what is going on – particularly when it comes to me!

At the same time, though, I have learnt many lessons from this cancer thing, not the least of which is that everything is different, everyone is different and there is not necessarily every any ‘usual’ against which to measure oneself. Actually, those lessons I mostly knew, the cancer thing just reinforced them for me.

What I have also learnt is the value in accepting things, taking them in your stride and keeping on marching – even if the stride is slightly altered, slowed down or even broken. It is about keeping the onward momentum.

Actually, that is how I tend to do most things.

I noticed this when I ran today. For some reason, this seems to be a bad week. When I paddled yesterday, my arms got so tired; when I ran today, my body felt like lead and got tired very quickly. When that happens, I don’t stop, I just keep on going – walking, but still moving forward.

I think that that is what this cancer thing is about, or, at least, the way to deal with it is: even if there are bumps and difficulties along the way, the trick is to just keep on moving forward, to keep on just doing it.

I am reminded of when Noel described me as a ‘Nike chick’ – I just do it.

Is there any other way to do anything, actually? Whether it’s this cancer thing, or just simply moving onwards with the aftermath, there is only one way and that is forwards. After all, how else does one conquer anything?


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