• Finding new normal and focus for the rest of my life.

    Asked by nancyjac on Wednesday, May 2, 2012

    Finding new normal and focus for the rest of my life.

    So I think I have now completed the worst of my cancer treatment. Chemo and surgery done, still will have radiation and hormone inhibitor. Onc told me that stats for recurrence are not great and that same cancer could at some point show up elsewhere. At this point I am thinking a lot about how to reduce stress, find new normal, and how I want to spend the rest of my life whether that is 5 years or 30 years.

    I am going on 65 years old, retired but had been working 3 days/week as a volunteer. The main stress factors in my life right now are my own health and longevity, that of my husband who is 76 years old, and a daughter who is an emotional train wreck and I am having to limit my exposure to her to manage my own stress.

    I think I am afraid at some point of being completely alone with no family left & no close friends. I've never been much of a social butterfly, but I think I need to actively pursue some options to meet new people in my age/interest group. Any suggestions?

    12 Answers from the Community

    12 answers
    • CarolLHRN's Avatar

      I understand you needing to find your new normal. I have given this very topic a lot of thought. Cancer has certainly changed my life and how I live. I decided to pursue two things when my treatments are over: fitness and learning Spanish. I really thought about things I would enjoy and want to do and that's what it came down to. I have started to plan by finding a local club that speaks Spanish and looking at the activities a local outdoors organization hosts. Looking at the upcoming events makes me look forward to being done with treatment and moving on with my life.

      Networking in a room is the #3 fear of people. You are not alone in having trouble connecting with people. May I suggest taking a class at your local community college. They often offer community classes like gardening and exercise and languages. Meeting someone in a class is easier because everyone is in the same boat: they don't know anyone in the class. Working on projects together and sharing ideas is a great way to foster new friendships. Some of my closest friends, I have met in classes I have taken.

      Good luck to you and congratulations on finishing your main treatment. Give yourself a break. Making friends is hard work but the hard work can pay off.

      over 4 years ago
    • NanciHersh's Avatar

      When I was in the thick of things as you now are, a yoga teacher said to me, sometimes all you can do is keep "two nostrils above water." That really resonated with me. We often expect too much of ourselves- even in the worst of things, when we should be just taking a break and "being." See where you can find one thing at this time which will give you a moment of peace or calm, or a thread to a connection to someone else. Then take that one singular step. Thinking too far ahead can bring on feelings of overwhelm. One thing that you enjoy- a walk, a piece of music, and one way you could reach out to someone can keep your "two nostrils above water" and you will get through this. When your daughter and husband see this calm in you they will also benefit and take your lead.

      Take care, we have all been there, and you are not alone.

      over 4 years ago
    • jw243's Avatar

      Hi Nancy,

      Carol gave you some great suggestions on finding new outlets to meet people. I would like to offer you one more that is dear to my heart, Gilda's Club.

      Gilda's Club is a meeting place and much more for anyone affected by cancer. There are great support groups for all phases of treatment and remission. Fitness classes, art classes, volunteer opportunities, walking groups. If there is one in your area check them out. It is a great way to meet people. It also helps that they understand what you are going through.

      Hope this helps and best of luck. Enjoy!!

      over 4 years ago
    • Txblueeyes' Avatar

      Before being diagnosed, I started genealogical research and it has been so much fun! Not only have I learned more about my family, but I have made so many friends with others researching the same family lines. I have traveled to VA, NH, and ME (from Texas) to visit courthouses to learn more and to meet distant cousins I found while researching. My sleep patterns are still "off" since chemo and radiation, so I often search things on my computer while my husband is sound asleep. I am hoping one day to put all the information in a book for my family. If I really get creative, I may write a novel about the family members. During treatment, I found these new found friends were more attentive than even my friends living near by. My mother, who is near 80, is in the process of writing down stories she remembers about her family members. She's been doing this for about 15 years. It will be a treasure to have one day and I'm thankful to know more about family members that I never met. I never liked history before starting my research. Now, I love to learn about the past!

      over 4 years ago
    • TubThumping's Avatar

      I started going to a massage therapist. I did this after a doctor toldf me I was having constant and continuous muscle spasms. His eact words were "Girl, go get a massage!" It's the best thing I ever did. At Christmas I was really down, on the verge of tears on a daily basis. I had an appointment with Ken and told him its either him or a psychiatrist. I told him to fix me AND HE DID! It's therapeutic and relaxing. It's a little bit of time where it's all about me. Go for it.

      over 4 years ago
    • MarnieC's Avatar

      I love TubThumping's answer! Being a massage therapist myself (and breast cancer survivor), I've seen the transformation that bodywork can provide people, not only in terms of relaxing the body but also the mind. Highly recommend it!

      over 4 years ago
    • Fusionera's Avatar

      Nancy - this question STILL plagues me after 17+ years of survival and multiple recurrences of my brain cancer. I just recommend doing what you love in an environment you'd enjoy, whether at a local junior college, a club, or professional organization. You deserve that, and I agree that it is best to minimize exposure to, or avoid altogether, the toxic drama that your daughter provides. Keep in mind - the "new normal" you are trying to establish may change over time, as it has with me several times now. It is not evident from your post how supportive your husband has been or if you do any activities together.

      I have been spending time trying to do the things I enjoy most, and while I am not sure I can return to the kind of high-pressure jobs I used to do, I will soon be exploring what I CAN do professionally, even on a part-time basis.

      Txblueyes - the genealogy research is FUN stuff and very enriching. I am doing the same thing and it is so satisfying (although frustrating at times when you hit some walls) and a very productive. I want to leave something for my brother to share with his children, who have no idea about the other side of their family.

      over 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      Thanks for all of the great suggestions....keep 'em coming!

      There is a senior center in the town just north of me that I may join. They have lots of fun classes and clubs....everything from tap dancing to Pub nights.

      Have never tried massage therapy, but may look into that.

      My husband is very supportive, but we have very different hobbies and interests. He is even more of a home body than I am. I love my daughter but I am having to let go and not let myself be sucked into all of her problems. It's one of the hardest things I have had to do.

      And of course I will still devote a good part of time to the cat sanctuary where I volunteer.

      But would still like to find some new and local friends, particularly couples that my husband and I could socialize with, go to dinner with, etc. Most of our friends aren't local so we don't often just socialize or go out with other couples.

      over 4 years ago
    • sofarsogood's Avatar

      I'm also 65 and in very much the same place as you. Ever since I ended chemo, I've felt pretty lost, and here you verbalized the question so well. I didn't know so many people had similar responses, and I've benefitted from your responses. I also have few people to relate to, have trouble meeting people.

      I went through chemo and radiation alone, except for the great oncology nurses. Now I miss having that kind of support. Thanks for posting this question.

      over 4 years ago
    • babylady317's Avatar

      I have breast cancer too. I am 63 and finished chemo and radiation at Christmas. Finally my hair is growing in ! I had blonde hair all of my life and it came in a curly gray, imagine that :) Most people I run into out in public do not even recognize me and I find it sad, disturbing. On the other hand I think I am lucky to be alive even thought I am not the same me for now. I also think we all feel we can beat cancer while we are in treatment and when it ends many of us are fearful. So now I try to use my faith to beat cancer, it and the support of others helped me thru surgery and treatment, so I am counting on a higher power to help me at this stage of my journey.

      over 4 years ago
    • Meandbob's Avatar

      I'm 47 but totally agree finding the "new normal" after treatment is not easy and cancer has certainly changed my outlook on life - and has changed some people's view on me both good and bad - I now have with more appreciation of life and more compassion for others and not more importantly not judging people on how they look first cos of the way I look in recovery. This has enabled different sorts of people coming into my life over the last couple months and in the most surprising ways. Some of it is because I have become more open and confident in approaching people myself - which I would never have done before. I will talk radomly to people on the bus - being English always starting with the weather - its amazing how people will open up - one lady thanked for such a good conversation and we swapped phone numbers. I made a complete new friendship with another lady who I brought a cooker from and we now pop into each others houses to have coffee - I have also joined a pioneering christian outreach group which enables me to talk to people (not necessarily about christian concepts cos that is not how the group works) but about helping people in many different ways - I want to give back for all the help I have had both from doctors, nurses and random kindnesses I have on my cancer journey. A friend told me that this is now my year when I should learn to say no to things I don't want to do or enjoy, cut out negative people who have brought me down and find some peace and relaxation - I am working on this one now I am back at work and with a teenager at home! I have stepped back from making long-term plans and have learned to have gratitude for the small things in everyday life and try to smile and laugh as much as possible - this attracts people to you as well. Best of luck Nancy with your "new normal" journey.

      over 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      So much of this is spot on in terms of where I am heading at this point, both emotionally and practically, but these words from MeandBob really spoke to me and I think deserve repeating:

      "I should learn to say no to things I don't want to do or enjoy, cut out negative people who have brought me down and find some peace and relaxation - I have stepped back from making long-term plans and have learned to have gratitude for the small things in everyday life and try to smile and laugh as much as possible - this attracts people to you as well."

      over 4 years ago

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