Redefining Normal

“Will my life ever be normal again?” This question was asked of a newbie on my Stage IV Discussion Board. There are no easy answers to this question. Quite honestly, the answer is “no”, however, normal is an elusive state even when you’re not a cancer patient.

I got to thinking that normal changes for everyone. It changes when you move out of your parents house, when you get your first job, when you get married. I even remember asking the same question off my son’s pediatrician at one of his first newborn appointments, “Will my life ever be normal again?” To which he responded, “Yes, in about 18 years.” So, hey, only 3 1/2 years to go!

Then, I got to thinking that cancer is different. “Normal” changes without your consent. No one chooses to have cancer. We choose to redefine normal when we make voluntary changes in our lives. Although it can be scary, we hope that the change will be for the better and “normal” will be even better than before. It’s different when the change hits you like Mack truck and suddenly you find yourself lost in a foreign land with the whole concept of “normal” far, far away. This is what happens with diagnosis, but also with other life circumstances as well. Divorce, losing friends and loved ones, losing a job, natural disasters. Cancer is but one of the many non-voluntary changes that require an adjustment to “normal.”

So, ultimately, my old “normal” is gone for good. However, in the 9 months since diagnosis, I have been able to redefine this concept for myself.  A year ago, my weekly “to do” list might have consisted of grocery shopping, laundry, grading papers, walking the dog, etc. Now, the list is similar with a few additions. In the past ten days, I added blood draw, Pet/Ct scan, reconstructive surgery, and infusion to my list. Not exactly activities that are fun and exciting, but I can’t say grocery shopping and laundry are my favorites either. I’m actually amazed at how “normal” my life is. Not only am I amazed, but also grateful. I’m grateful that I can still teach, walk the dog, do household chores, etc. There are many others that are not so lucky.

As I continue my journey, I’m sure my normal will have to be redefined many times. Such is life for cancer patients and non-cancer patients alike. I could sit around and think about life before diagnosis, but that serves no purpose. There truly is no going back. So, it’s a matter of moving forward under my new definition of normal.

I saw my oncologist today and received my pamidronate infusion. My last PET/CT Scan was good and my current treatment will continue. I will be speaking to an OB/GYN to discuss a possible hysterectomy over the summer. It will remove the major source of estrogen and therefore put my cancer at a bigger disadvantage. It will also remove some fear and anxiety from life as well. Hopefully they can do a laproscopic procedure and it will be an outpatient procedure.

I reached a major milestone this week. I turned 40 on Monday. We celebrated with a big party last weekend. It was a very happy occasion. No one should ever be depressed about a birthday! Trust me……consider yourself lucky and be grateful that you’re alive to see it!

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One Response to Redefining Normal

  1. Liz R. says:

    One of your best posts yet. I’m always amazed at how honest and articulte you are. Goodness, you are a beautiful writer! Your students are lucky, your son and husband blessed to have you. Yes, you live with cancer, as does your family. That sucks, for sure! You are amazing in so many ways. Thanks for allowing the rest of us to “tag” along with you on your journey! I feel lucky and honored to know you…you really are pretty damn wonderful! Soooo happy about the scan!!!

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