Those of us that have seen our way through cancer are relieved when treatments are finally over. We no longer have to head to the hospital for weekly chemotherapy visits. The daily radiation treatments will become a thing of the past. If surgery completes your journey, then you’ll be happy to finish that process.
Once all is said and done, we often look forward to gaining back our “normal” life. We strive to remember how it felt to not be inundated with thoughts of cancer or friends asking, “How are you feeling today?” We just want to be normal again.
The first few months – even up to a year – after treatments can be a transitional time. As you start to see your hair grow back, your body pains ease, and your spirits brighten, you begin to feel whole. For many, it’s been a long journey to get there.
The transitional time is often referred to as the “New Normal.” Both men and women struggle when their treatments end. They may have fear of their cancer returning. Their anxiety level hits an all-time high with each visit to the oncologist. They have to deal with both the physical and emotional scars. They begin to realize that what was their pre-cancer self is not the same as their post-cancer self. They begin to cope with the NEW YOU.
Erica, a stage 3 breast cancer survivor diagnosed in her late 30’s, says that she has changed some habits for the better after her treatments ended. “I’m not as strong as I once was. I just needed to increase my exercise routine, add in more weight training, eat healthier, and begin taking the vitamins and minerals I was missing.” She also added that in amongst all her changes, her positive thinking has stayed the same. “My positive attitude is what got me through it all and continues to be that way. However, I do feel lucky to wake up every single day and try to find pure happiness.”
Linda, a three-time cancer survivor, had a different perspective. “I put the cancer in the back of my brain and never dwelled on it. I tried not to make it the center of my life.” With her last round of chemotherapy, Linda had experienced neuropathy in both her fingers and toes. “I had to learn to ignore it,” she said. “It’s been eleven year now. I don’t even remember what it was like before.”
Coping with the post-treatment issues can be challenging. Regaining control of your life, whether it is through healthier lifestyle habits, your survivorship care plan, or support groups can help your transitional period become smoother. You never know, your “New Normal” could become the best you.
New posts every Monday and Wednesday.