Being diagnosed with a disease, terminal or not, can come as a shock. When we have to learn how to deal with this new disease, we tend to turn our world upside down because it is new to us. At first, we may want to completely change our lives, this can include changing how we eat, how we take care of ourselves, how we take care of others, how others take care of us and basically just how we live. It can be called our new normal. Is it really normal though?
Cancer Threw a Wrench in My Perfect Life
When I was first diagnosed, it was 8 months after I had gotten re-married, it was 5 months after we moved into my dream home, and we were just getting settled into our new life as a couple and family. This terminal diagnosis that I was given completely put a wrench in our life. It downward spiraled my positivity, it affected our kids and our marriage. It was like a test, and I truly didn’t know if we would pass this test. We had to adjust to a new normal, especially initially, while I waited on the process of testing and finding out treatment options. I was in a lot of pain and could barely walk up the stairs without getting out of breath. I was no longer the Mom and wife in control. I had to give up most of my responsibilities to my husband and then our kids picked up some of the slack. This was not a new normal I wanted nor did I like it. I was always the one in control of the household, and then all of a sudden, I was the sick one that couldn’t even go downstairs to make herself a bowl of soup.
Once treatment began, I realized our lives were changed forever. I had to deal with some harsh side effects and that meant a whole new hygiene routine, which meant it no longer took me 20 mins to shower and throw some gel in my hair to walk out the door. I now had to lotion my entire body twice a day, put my hair in some sort of braid to hide the thinning and then put on loads of makeup to hide my horrific rash from my targeted therapy. All of these changes added on a good hour and a half to my day. Then came meals, meals had to be simple, I was on the BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) diet for a while. This meant dinners with the kids were not very exciting as my husband would work all day, then have to come home, help the kids with homework, cook dinner, take care of me, and then would pass out after we would watch a show together. This was not what we were used to, nor was it what we had dreamed of when we got married and started planning and living our life together.
Accepting Change as It Comes
The new life of monthly doctor visits was a complete change. Before diagnosis, I would go to the doctor for yearly checkups and if I got sick. What I wasn’t ready for was spending at least half a day at least once a month at the cancer center for lab work and follow up appointments. I felt like I lived at the hospital the first 4 months! It was intimidating at first, seeing everyone it the cancer center. I remember one of the first times, we walked in and there was this older gentleman who was just so cheery, he was talking to everyone who came in and sat down and all I could think to myself is, “How is he so upbeat and positive in this place”. It took a few months, but then I finally understood, once you accept this new normal, you can embrace it for what it is. I feel like I am now that gentleman while I sit in the cancer center, I smile, I talk to people and I enjoy seeing my nurses and doctors. The treatments itself may be harsh, but your new normal is something you have to make your own. It’s a sign that you are still living and thriving and you can make it work for you.
Our new normal is not what we may have dreamed of. Our new normal may even suck sometimes. But without any kind of normal, would we be able to survive? Would we be able to enjoy what we have in those moments that we are not at the doctor, dealing with treatment or taking care of ourselves? My new normal is my new life. I always tell my friends and family, besides this whole cancer thing, I have a pretty darn good life and for that, I am grateful.