My New Normal

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m at the anniversary of my diagnosis and surgery, but I’ve been rather contemplative. Usually I’m pretty shallow, but lately I’ve been thinking deep thoughts. A lot of work for a simple, superficial gal such as myself.

I’ve been struggling lately with what has become my new normal. My fight has been accepting who I am now while desperately wanting things to be like they were before I was diagnosed.

Two years ago I foolishly thought once my treatment was over and once we got settled as a family again and once I had reconstruction, everything would go back to the way it had been. I had heard from more experienced women that things are never the same, but I guess I didn’t believe it. I am just now coming to the realization that it’s true.

When you’re diagnosed with cancer you think about the big things. Will the surgery get all the cancer? Will the chemo make me sick? Will it do any good? Will I get to watch my kids grow up? But you don’t think about the vast number of other changes your body and mind will go through. They don’t seem important at the time. And I guess when pitted against the ultimate scare of death, they’re not. But when you’ve made it through surgery and treatment and everything is looking good, you start waiting for all those other changes to get back to normal.

Maybe the weight will eventually come off. Maybe the blisters will eventually go away. Maybe the hypersensitive skin will eventually toughen up. Maybe I’ll eventually feel like a 41-year-old instead of someone much older. And the other changes, the ones that are too personal to write about on a blog, maybe some of them will go back to the way it was. But some of the changes are permanent and there’s not a thing I can do about it.

I think I’m finally getting to the place where I can stop mourning the loss of who I was and accept who I am. For me this is a spiritual journey and only by the grace of God will I be content with my situation.

When I was diagnosed there were those who said God had given me cancer for a reason and there were those who said God had allowed the cancer for a reason. Whichever is true, the fact remains that He has been in control of this from the very beginning. I’ve been through the fire and dross has melted away, but I find I’m still not nearly as shiny as I could be. So I’m learning to embrace my new normal because it’s another chance at refinement, bringing me that much closer to being pure gold.


  1. Rosie on April 25, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    You know when I read this I partially feel in awe that you are able to articulate your feelings because alot of people can’t. My Mom had leukemia and beyond the conversation telling us she had it, she didn’t want to discuss it. Thanks to a great counselor in hospice we learned to accept that.Some of the other feelings I have are admiration, respect and a smidgeon of guilt for my own bounty in life. It is a blessing to know people, even through cyberspace, who have come through their trial by fire. It sure puts my sack of rocks in perspective.Truly, thank you for sharing this.

  2. Trish on April 25, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    I have read over your post a couple of times and am at a loss for words. I have no clue what fighting cancer must be like and to say that I have had to find new normals in my life too just doesn’t feel quite the same.Your writing has given me a new perspective.

  3. radioactive girl on April 25, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    I completely understand the new normal thing. wrote something that really hit home to me when he wrote “my emotional range has been severely re-calibrated as a result of my experiences.” That is what I have been trying to find the words for since this all began. I love that you shared such personal stuff with us!

  4. Jen on April 25, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    I admire you Jen. You are a strong woman of God. I know He looks down on you and says, “Look, look at my precious daughter!” Many Blessings to you!(I am a blubbering yutz today who couldn’t make an eloquent statement if her life depended on it – sorry – you know what I am trying to say 🙂

  5. Anonymous on April 25, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    Goodness, Jen — now you’re going to make ME think all deeply and stuff, aren’t you? 🙂 You constantly amaze me with your faith, you know, and have made me examine my own. I’m gonna go out on a limb here (a BIG one, for me!) and say that God put you in my life for that very reason. I don’t know how the cancer and everything else fits into it, because, well, you were already making me think before your diagnosis . . . I can honestly say that I’ve been blessed by getting to know you.Big Hugs,Jennifer, getting all teary-eyed over here . . .

  6. Colorado Writer on April 25, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    Jen,”Everything happens for a reason” is the completely opposite thing to say at this juncture.Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to many of the situations people use it for.You aren’t the same. You are tougher and smarter. And you might be better for your experience.Doesn’t mean you have to like it. You are allowed to be pissed.

  7. Jenster on April 25, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Rosie – sometimes it’s hard to say what you’re feeling because then it might make it true. Know what I mean?Trish – our trials are relative. I haven’t had to deal with the loss of a parent and that seems worse to me than having cancer.Radioactive – “my emotional range has been severely re-calibrated as a result of my experiences.” I love that! It’s so true.Jen – I know what you’re saying. LOL And I appreciate it very much.Jennifer – You Jennifers made me all sniffly and everything. LOL You have no idea how much your words mean to me.Colorado – Thank you for your kind words. And it’s a good thing it’s okay to be pissed ’cause I certainly go there enough. :o)

  8. Swishy on April 25, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    On a much, much smaller scale, I understand what it’s like to mourn who you used to be. Just tonight, I was crying and thinking, “I wish I could just be who I was before!” It’s hard, but you will make it. You are a brave, smart, funny, talented, beautiful woman who has many great and wonderful things ahead of her. I don’t think that God causes bad things to happen to us, but He allows them to happen sometimes. I think it happens to give other people the opportunity to serve, love and feel empathy as much as it is for any personal growth.

  9. Burg on April 25, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    I’m one of the “God allows” too.. After all, He can heal it just as quickly.. I tried explaining that to my mil after she was diagnosed with lymphoma.. She basically told me I was nuts, but I count it as a blessing..I tagged you by the way… Come see..

  10. Dorky Dad on April 26, 2007 at 12:30 am

    I really respect the strength you are showing in the face of such a difficult disease. But I don’t know if anybody who has faced cancer ever really returns to “normal.” And it is comforting knowing that God is up there, in control when we have none.

  11. T-girl on April 26, 2007 at 2:15 am

    You know my Dad always said, God will only give you what you can handle. When I keep that in mind it makes it a bit easier to face some of the tougher challenges of life, not always “easy” but just a bit less frustrating if I didn’t do this. What you are going through is normal (whatever the hell THAT is) I think and some day when things settle down and you are in your new “normal” (because it WILL become normal) things will not look so bad/strange/confussing. You will laugh and say, “wow, that wasn’t so bad and look at what I have/know now, that maybe I might not have had!” I bet before this happened you kind of knew, “yeah I am strong” but I bet you had just NO idea how strong! I personally think that is the challenge God is trying to bestow, that even in our darkest hours if you can see the light, no matter how small it is and walk towards that light that will make it brighter; then you are learning the lesson. Life is full of ups and downs, some worse then others but how you look at them/deal with them makes all the difference in the world. (the whole optimist vs. pessimist thing- we ALL live in one world or the other from time to time but it is which world you allow to rule that matters!)Sorry, you had me thinking on my own personal life outlook! Not sure if any of that made sense! LMAO You keep on keeping on girl, as the days pass it will become easier and easier, you are already one step ahead of most, you can see the humor in yourself and can articulate how it is effecting you, no easy task!

  12. Tara Marie on April 26, 2007 at 5:33 am

    The “new normal” is an incredible way of looking at life. God gives/allows us many good and bad things throughout our lives. I think it’s our test to grow and adapt and accept the perpetual change of normal, whether gradual or life altering.PS–you rock!!!

  13. Jodi_Lee_McG on April 28, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    You are lovely! You are one of the most lovely people that I have ever met…and I have never even met you face to face. Your words are real, raw, but always beautiful. I will leave you with this quote from Voltaire ~ “To believe in God is impossible, NOT to believe in Him is absurd.”So true…

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