Thursday, October 7, 2010

What is the new normal?

After cancer, they tell you that you will have to reach a new normal, you aren't going back to the way you were. What was normal for you before is not going to be normal any more. You body has been subjected to one or more surgeries. Maybe some radiation and chemotherapy. You may have less energy than before too.

Your stress level went through the roof. You are now living in the land of 'what if it comes back'. Which is a little stressful in itself. You have many more doctor appointments that before and each one has its accompanying stress pull. For the past three years, I have had more than 60 appointments each year.

Physically you are not the same either. You probably have a new hair style as your hair grows out of its chemo-cut. Weight gain is not that unusual either. New aches and pains are not uncommon as chemo has some fun side effects. And the surgical scars...

You are trying to balance all the advice and suggestions. Eat healthier. Eat lots of plants. Eat soy, no don't eat soy, eat soy, no don't. You try to exercise more. You cut out all the things you like - alcohol, chocolate, dessert, fast food. All are steps to prevent the r-word (recurrence) - you are doing everything you can to prevent it - but is that enough? Is anything enough?

So what is the new normal? I'm not entirely sure. First I need to add that in my case, I have had several other medical issues of the non-malignant kind since the end of my cancer treatment - gall bladder surgery, bad back, ugly thyroid ultrasound, touch of lymphedema, etc. My back is an ever worsening adventure which has no cure, just lots of pain. Also, my husband had his own fun little cancer adventure last winter which added to my stress level.

However, somehow over recent months I feel my life has settled down to a level where I can cope for the most part. It helps that now I seem to go to the doctor once or twice a month instead of once or twice a month. It may be partly due to the medication I am on but I'm okay with that. If the medication is what it takes to reach a new normal, I can deal. Does it mean I need to take it for a long time? Possibly. But I also take back and thyroid medication for life. A friend of mine phrased it as 'better living through chemistry'.

Is this normal? I am not sure but its liveable and that's the important part.

3 comments:

Nancy said...

I am just beginning to think about what my "new normal" might be like. I am finishing up chemo and still have another surgery coming up, so I feel like I have a ways to go yet before I need to realy face that. So far, I haven't really allowed myself to think about recurrence. I am enjoying your blog, hope you can check mine out at www.nancyspoint.com I'd like to add yours to my blog roll and perhaps you'd be willing to add mine.

WhiteStone said...

I'm post-chemo with ovarian but continuing with a maintenance drug (by infusion). I feel great so I'm hoping that is my new normal...a normal without any further need for treatment! That's what I'd like!

Bless you as you keep moving forward.

Lauren said...

I was just reading another blog today on the very same topic. What your going through is totally normal.

I highly recommend looking over some of the resources on the Cancer Support Community's website (and explore the related articles on the right-hand side of the page): http://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/mm/Treatment-Ends.aspx

You may also want to consider joining the breast cancer registry to share a bit about your breast cancer experience. Your in-put will lead to better programs and resources addressing areas that you and others like you struggled with. To learn more and join please go to http://www.breastcancerregistry.org