Why do you think you need to go in reverse? Odds are you won't return to your pre-cancer life. You will most forward to a post cancer life. What is normal as you move forward into that life is entirely up to you. Just as with any lifestyle altering event (school, marriage, having children, retirement, etc.), we don't go back to pre school when we graduate, we don't go back to dating when we get married, we don't go back to being childless once we have children, and we don't go back to having never had cancer once we have.
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) Questions
How do you get back to "normal"?
Asked by cjnana on Sunday, March 10, 2013
How do you get back to "normal"?
So my last PET scan was clean! I am entering my second year of remission, and I have only one more round of maintenance chemo. My question is this...It took forever for me to except the diagnoses of cancer and adjust my life around it. Now I am faced with doing the reverse. Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful for the gift of remission! I just don't know how to return to the level of "normalacy" that was my pre-cancer life. Anyone been here before? And what did you do?
17 Answers from the Community
You'll never be the same since you've gone through cancer--and that's OK. You'll KNOW why the woman in the grocery store is wearing a scarf, why a relative feels sick from chemo side effects, etc. It will most likely make you much more empathetic.
If you're asking if you'll ever stop worrying about it coming back, with time, you probably will. But you (along with all of us) have been through a lot. Welcome to your new "normal". :-)
Welcome to the club of survivors. Everyone is different in how fast and how far they go in being "normal", you will likely always have more worry about things like odd moles, pains etc. but that will get less. You may be more tired or forgetful than you think you used to be but again everyone is different and it gets better. You have been through an experience that as Nancy said has made a huge change in your life, normal is a different world and in many ways an expanded world than it used to be. I have so many wonderful friends that I have been lucky to know through our common experiences with this fight, Congratulations! Tracy
I have a different "take" on life post-chemo. If we decide that we would like to "go back" to our old life, we must remember that our "old life" had cancer in its future. Is it not better to move ahead to what life has to offer at this point? In my case, I am damaged good, with shortness of breath, neuropathy and potential heart problems. Although I have been in constant treatment for 4 1/2 years and may never complete it, I am delighted to be anywhere. However, I have come from a time of facing death to now facing each day with a new lease on life. I have decided to be content with my discontents and embrace my loved ones, and each new day, as it arrives.
I'm glad you asked this question - cos I feel the same. I feel I am still fighting over this new normal stuff. My main problem is keeping up with others expectations of me. I feel it's my turn to help others and give back - but it's enough for me to just take care of me. These have been great responses. Sorry I haven't answered really answered your question - but I just feel like chiming in with you.
attypatty (Best Answer!)
Normal is overrated. To me normal means average, the way things were, like everybody else. We're not normal - we are survivors, we are warriors, we anything but "normal" in the average sense of the word. I think your questions is actually asking, "Will I ever be the same as I was?" And, for better or worse, the answer is "No." Nancyjac said it best - you can never go backwards - and why would you want to? The New Me has painful neuropathy in my feet and hands which may never go away, but cancer has compelled me to stick to a weekly exercise program so I am actually stronger than before. The New Me has curly, grey hair instead of long, straight brown hair (actually it probably was already grey, but only Miss Clairol would have known). The New Me fears every pain is a new tumor, but is more compassionate and patient and has better priorities in life. All life experience changes us - it's part of the human condition. The only questions is -
does it change us for the better or for the worse? We may not be able to control what happens to us, but we can definitely control how we respond to it. For me, cancer has made be a better person, and would never want to go back to the old, normal me.
Congrats on reaching your 2nd remission anniversary. It will be a process getting use to the new normal. It will be somewhere between your per-diagnosis and treatment lives. Only you will know what works best for you. Life even with out being a survivor is all about change and the new normal.
Do what you want. If you feel the need for a cancer support group or other cancer-related activity, go to it. If these seem like hindrances, don't go. Do whatever activities you want to do just like you did B.C. I am an eight year lymphoma survivor with a type of lymphoma that will come back. This past summer I realized that cancer was no longer the center of my thoughts and my life. This may have started in 2010 when I said no to continuing a particular type of chemo. So live your life and in time the cancer view may go away.
Back to Normal
I suggest you let your pretreatment normal go the same way you let your age thirty or age twenty go. Granted post cancer treatment is a more significant passage due to the after effects it leaves with you. My point is each day is a bit different for all of us. What matters is what we do with each new day we are given.
I admit I was much like you in thinking when will I be back to my old normal. It was a little disappointing when I realized that would never be. I now accept any new normal I can get and am willing to adjust to its newness and its differences. You see, I have adjusted to four new normals of chemo and radiation over the last thirteen years. And as a result of sun damage from my outdoor activities in my youth have had to deal with treatments for three most common skin cancers on a continuing basis.
I got through my first new normal in what I call brute strength and awkwardness. It was some time before I accepted that I would not be the same as before my treatment.
It is in my makeup to be proactive and optimistic. Because of these traits I have in each cancer occurrence accepted what was lost in treatment and looked for available options to get it back.
Time, rest, good nutrition, moderate exercise and drinking lots of water will be needed to get over the initial side effects. Later, when you notice something not returning to near your old normal, research options on what recourse you have.
Some things I found useful,
Local cancer support group provided a networking forum for local medical services and information what works for others survivors. As you are finding out here on WhatNext, sharing helps.
Neuropathy in my feet, I took three years of Tai Chi that eliminated my balance issues.
Swallowing issues, I used Insure to add to daily nutrition and reduce swallowing.
During hospital stays I walked the halls so much the nurses called me the marathon man. I did this in order to be better fit when I got discharged.
Take it slow on exercise to avoid injury. Overdoing is no fun.
Open your mind to things that may work to make your future better.
Good luck on your journey
Normal is what you make it. My normal is always moving forward so I'm sort of in a state of flux most of the time which keeps me engaged. Cancer is just a bump in the road. It has altered my life irrevocably but then so does each day in time to some degree.
If you want to stop thinking of cancer as part of your life, I'm not sure you can. It is part of you, your life experience and your history remission or not. Best to accept it, live your life to the fullest and more on, older and wiser.
If you loose a loved one to cancer there is no "Normal" . If you have cancer you can never ever go back to who and what you were. I think we underestimate the importance of grief . Who we were and who we will never be again.
I used to wear a string bikini and look darn good..those days are long gone too.
In life we all have so much loss. We need to allow ourselves the grief and then move on. Its not what happens to us its how we carry on after it does.
All the best, I know you will find your peace.
I am also finishing up my last cycle of chemo, and I have to admit that I'm afraid to go back to normal. Normal for me was working too much, eating whatever I wanted, and rarely getting the rest a body needs. I only hope that I'm able to continue putting my health first. I do have big plans for a spa day when this is all finished. A new do and some serious relaxation and recovery from all the pains of chemo are definitely going to help perk me up. I just hope I can remember all of the life lessons that cancer threw my way. Good luck to you, and congrats on being not just a survivor, but also a fighter!
time. patience. and realizing that "normal" is never going to be what it once was. this is true even for those who don't undergo the shamanic experiences of cancer treatment. we who have can come back to the "normal" world with new insight, new lessons learned, new strengths discovered. BETTER is the new normal.
I am sorry to say that you really never go back it just doesn't work that way. Cancer irreparably changes your life forever in ways you never thought possible. However why do you need to go back? It isn't easy having cancer nor beating it but in my opinion we are all stronger for it. Wear this survivor badge with pride I know I do. I have a ribbon with survivor over it tattooed just above my port. You will always have a different outlook on life now, don't make that into a bad thing, You now have insight into something that most cant begin to imagine.You just have to get use to a new kind of normal you may feel a bit out of step for awhile but you will get there I promise. :)
I am in seven yrs of remission from BREAST/THYROID CANCERS, I felt no fear of that disease, and I just rolled with life that the GOOD LORD gave me.I was working then also and I was put through a lot of STRESS, by my then second boss, (my first was a darling, and never downed me) and caused me to go to THERAPY for DEPRESSION/ANXIETY.. So I RETIRED/RESIGNED. Yes, I am on medication for all that, and I am fine now. I just listened to my doctors and the GOOD LORD, with help from my family, son and daughter-in-law..I am now facing a possibility of another surgery if the NODULE increases growth on my PARATHYROID where the right thyroid was removed. I just look at it this way so be it, and do it. After retiring/resigning from the MEDICAL FIELD after 23+ yrs, I understood all of the messy disease. I lost my first "SHELTIE", THERAPY/SERVICE DOG with LIVER CANCER, and I now have two "GORGEOUS SHELTIE'S" now too, they are THERAPY/SERVICE DOGS..My dogs watched me even after my LFT TOTAL KNEE REPLACEMENT last August 2012. My deceased "SHELTIE" knew I had CANCER before my doctors did and before my MAMMOGRAM. THANKS FOR THE VA for my medical care, I am a Veteran, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE..
North Las Vegas, NV
Have FAITH and no FEAR of that disease. I am seven yrs in remission from BREAST/THYROID CANCERS. I am possibly looking forward to maybe another surgery because my PARATHYROID has a nodule and if there shows any growth on my ULTR-SOUND next month I will be back in surgery.I went through a DEPRESSION/ANXIETY stage I go to therapy and medication helps. That all come about from my work..So I retired/resigned for my peace of mind, you can not heal under STRESS... I RETIRED FROM THE MEDICAL FIELD after 23+ yrs so my medical situation was no problem for me. I just thank God I have the VA for my medical care, or I would be in God's Heaven today. I am an UNITED STATES AIR FORCE VETERAN..
Marie Czarnecki and her "SHELTIE'S"//THERAPY/ SERVICE DOGS
N. Las Vegas,NV