Don't Be Afraid of Your "New Normal"

by GregP_WN

Life's journey brings all of us many changes. And with each one comes a "new normal." Think about it...after you graduate high school or college, get married, have your first is never again what it used to be. You may have heard from your oncologists, nurses, and PAs about a "new normal" after cancer. What exactly does that mean?

Survivor 2 Sm

Lisa Lathrop Survivor, Relayer

Does it mean that you'll be able to go back to your old job but maybe not be able to work as many hours as you once did, that you'll eat different foods because of that metastic taste in your mouth, or maybe your daily routine will change? To be honest, I didn't really know what to expect either...except that life after cancer would be "different."
Now, 4 years into remission, I am happy to find that my "new normal" is WAY better than my old. I've always been a "glass half full" kind of gal and it was no different when I had cancer. In fact, the first thing visitors saw when they came to my hospital room was a "Life is Good" magnet on the door. That phrase taught me that even though I was battling cancer, there were so many people in the world that were in much worse health than I.

Once I got home from the hospital, life didn't feel that great though. Where I was once surrounded by people, now I was left alone: my kids went off to school and my husband went off to work each day. We had moved to a new state for my treatment, and I knew virtually no neighbors, had no friends in the area, and my relatives had their own family obligations so any visits were far off in the future. Lethargy and depression set in.

Then I found out about a program at the YMCA...the Livestrong Program. It is designed to assist cancer patients (at any stage in recovery) in the transition to their "new normal". After about two years of day-to-day sitting in my recliner and falling asleep most of the time, my muscles had atrophied terribly. The Livestrong program helped me get my muscles back in shape, meet new people, lifted my mood, gave me a place to go, and provided emotional support as well. With some of my new friends, we even created a Relay for Life team to help find a cure for this disease which takes the lives of so many.

Our Relay team, sparked my inspiration to give back. I created - to help other cancer patients and loved ones through links of support, health and wellness, motivational materials, and the arts. You see, I was an Art Teacher prior to being diagnosed with Leukemia...and due my substantially lowered immune system, I couldn't go back to work in my chosen field. I had to reinvent myself. That forced me to start creating my own artwork again. And, you know, the arts are a great way to heal!

To sum it all "new normal" rocks! I still get colds more frequently than most other people, but I beat cancer! I count my blessings every day because there are so many others less fortunate than I. I do my best to give back in every way that I can. That may mean, to the food pantry or a single-mom who needs a break. I am back to teaching now...but on my schedule and not one dictated by a school. I will Relay for Life until I can walk no more...and even then, I'll probably participate in a wheelchair.

So don't be afraid of your "new normal." With a little effort, you're "new normal" can be great, too!

Lisa Lathrop is an active WhatNexter, drop by her page at Lisa Lathrop and say hi!

Here are some conversations on WhatNext about finding and accepting your "new normal".

Finding New Normal And Focus For Rest of My Life - by NancyJac

Husband is Not Trying To Get Back To Normal - by lucifee83

Struggling to Help My Sister Through This Next Step In Her Life - by sissuperhero

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