The New Normal


Cancer is an insidious disease that touches far too many of us. Having had cancer four times, I apparently am here for a reason, a “new normal,” so to speak. Ever since my bouts with cancer and trying to clear my mind from “chemo brain,” I always run into trying to figure out what I am going to do next. What are the plans for me on this earth?

Before I get ahead of myself, let me give you a little background on me and what I consider the three stages of the cancer cycle:

1. Diagnosis – One thing we all can share is the overwhelming, indescribable feeling of being told that we have cancer. I was unfortunate enough to hear that phrase four different times from the doctors. Each time was a new journey into the surreal and wonderment of the meaning of life and death. By the way, I don’t plan on hearing that phrase for a fifth time! Those of us who have been uttered that statement by a doctor share a common bond, a fraternity of sorts that no one wants to be a member of. As my doctor iterated to me on my bone cancer diagnosis, “this is the beginning of your journey.” And what a journey it has been!

2. Treatment- I think most of us are aware of the big three, as far as treatment goes; radiation, chemotherapy, and possibly surgery. Some will have one of the various treatments, and if you’re like me, you will be lucky enough to go through them all! The one piece of advice I would give is to make sure you are doing the right thing treatment wise. If you are like me, and come from a smaller town, you should consider going to one of the major cancer centers near you. I was originally misdiagnosed locally, and it led to perhaps more radiation than I should have received. Also, I had a tumor in my arm from the bone cancer. Believe it or not, I went to three different major hospitals, and all had different surgical techniques for dealing with the arm!

3. Remission – Just as one feels the emotions of hearing the word “cancer” in the diagnosis phase, the opposite compliment to that can be true when you hear the word “remission” told to you by your doctor. But what now? Life has changed so much for some of us that we can’t live as we use to. For me, I no longer have use of my right arm, since a prostheses replaced my old arm. As with me, I was no longer physically or emotionally able to go back to my career as a teacher, so I am in search of a “new normal,” so-to-speak. Currently, I have been writing books and spending lost time with my family. I have chronicled my story in a book entitled, “A Call to Faith, the Journey of a Cancer Survivor.” While faith played a part in my healing, this story can relate to anyone who has gone through cancer or has had cancer affect their family. Whether you know it or not, you have been changed on your own journey, and you too can find your “new normal” if need be.