Our 'New Normal' - a thought provoking article
A friend of mine shared this recently .... Author unknown—
I had no idea how much cancer sucks.
The worst part of cancer is that so many people confuse it with so many illnesses like pneumonia or maybe even the sudden trauma of a broken hip. Although these diseases are acute, painful and sometimes dangerous, they are brief insults to the body and soul. Once the immediate danger is gone from the body, they usually do not recur or spread. You survive! You heal! They do not become a permanent burden in our minds or lives. You go back to your normal way of life, with no real misgivings.
Cancer is not like that. Yes, it can be sudden, painful and debilitating. Yes, most of us survive and it is most unlikely that our cancer will return. BUT the difference is that our minds and our lives will never heal.
Cancer in remission does not leave.
The person we were before cancer ... will never be the person we are after cancer. Family and friends do not expect to see this change in us and are baffled as to why our lives will never get back to "normal". It is hard for all of us to accept that a cancer survivor is, and will somehow, always be a cancer patient.
First, there are the obvious and common physical effects on our body and soul. Aches and pains may persist for years. Scars and permanent surgical changes will always be there. Chemotherapy injuries such as loss of hearing, heart damage, vision or nerve damage may follow us. We may have slight shortness of breath or decreased endurance. Our skin, nails and hair may change. We may taste or smell things differently. Or altogether lose our appetite and enjoyment of food. Or worst - lose our sexual drive or satisfaction. Our memories may never be as sharp. And sleep may become erratic. Our innocence is taken away - we lose our 'soul'.
We may always be tired, even after a good night's sleep. We may become weak or our mental awareness may be lost. Loss of concentration may make it hard to work or enjoy something simple like a reading book, watching a movie or visiting with friends or maintain a job. We may not have the energy, the excitement. Life may be drained of fun, satisfaction or purpose.
Perhaps the inescapable change is that you may have the "never leaving, always just around the corner", deep mental pain, that reminds us that today or tomorrow, the cancer may return. Every discomfort we get will seem to be some kind of sign that cancer has come back. Something as simple as a winter's cold, a toothache, or heartburn after a spicy meal, can scream at us! It is very difficult to "put cancer behind you" when it is always in the back of your mind.
The clincher? None of this will be obvious to anyone else. No matter how much our family or medical caregivers try to empathise, to comfort, connect to understand - surviving cancer is a deeply changing and highly personal experience.
With that being said, the cancer transformation is different for each person and each patient. None of us were the same before the disease, and none of us experience this disease the same way.
There is no "NORMAL", it all becomes the "NEW NORMAL"
Cancer sucks, and keeps on sucking. Deep healing requires the understanding that things are not the same.
It requires communication and space, counseling, support and patience.
It requires time to find the person you have become.