Friday, March 20, 2015
It's like a bad mashup and an oxymoron, this post-cancer life.
After nearly 23 years of going through breast cancer, this whole concept of a 'New Normal' has been at the forefront of my mind quite a bit. And as a Language Therapist, I am continually questioning the true premise of what this means to me and my life post-breast cancer - x3.
Everyone talks about this in Cancerland and post-anything-adverse-and-traumatic will of course, force you into a 'New Normal' in our lives, yet, I still can't unravel and pinpoint what this literally means for me. Yes, I understand that there's a transformation, and of course, I have a new perspective on life and absolutely, I am beyond grateful to still be alive and kicking, but it's most certainly a struggle as the scars are still there both emotionally and physically - every.single.day.
I often equate my current mental, emotional and spiritual state as an island. My own island. And sometimes when there are other people around me on my island, I still feel so very isolated and reclusive. Nobody truly grasps what it's like to experience such a phenomenon and the impact of these life-changing events, including me.
I frequently vacillate between my thoughts of I'm still mostly the same person and yet I feel so very different and offbeat from those around me. Do people look at me as the girl that has had breast cancer 3 times over the past 23 years? Do they still see me as the same person? I don't really know as people don't really talk about 'IT.' I can't even imagine (nor do I want to imagine) what my Stage 4 sisters and brothers feel like on a daily basis? I know this is nothing compared to their lives yet is quite impactful on mine.
So, where do I go from here? I'm trying to find my old and new identity simultaneously but I don't feel very successful at it. I heavily rely on complete strangers (thank you Ann Marie, Nancy, #BCSM and Liza!) for validation and comfort. They get me sometimes more than I get myself as I hear them saying the exact same thing with confusion, anger and bewilderment.
I don't want to be my cancer, I want to be myself. Yet, it seems slightly unrealistic when I've spent nearly 45% of my life with this roommate I call breast cancer. I ache on a daily basis, my immune system is shot, I've grown weary of the side effects and I'm so tired of daily medical appointments and therapy that both help me yet frustrate me (I had 11 last week!).
So now what? Life on the post-cancer-fence is most uncertain and definitely a contradictory way to live. I suppose I will simply continue to be myself, my new self or some semblance of my former self. Whatever the case, I'm going to address my life in the same way that I've addressed each cancer diagnosis, facing myself in a forward direction and simply putting one foot in front of the other.
Wish me luck.