• It seems as if this journey has been much longer than expected after initial diagnosis. Do you ever feel normal again?

    Asked by luvsalldogs on Thursday, January 26, 2012

    It seems as if this journey has been much longer than expected after initial diagnosis. Do you ever feel normal again?

    The continued weight loss has been a big concern. I'm hoping this can get under control soon.

    18 Answers from the Community

    18 answers
    • PPaseka's Avatar

      I think once you are diagnosed with cancer, you have to change your thinking and accept what is the new "normal". I am not being negative, but I think it is something you have to do to remain sane.

      over 4 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      I totally hear you! I feel like I have been doing this for YEARS! And I haven't. I just finished five months of chemo... And will have surgery in a couple of weeks. But it is a long haul... And cancer doesn't give a XXX about what you were planning or hoping for etc.... I totally hear you.

      It's amazing that it takes this long, isnt it? And somehow the days seem long.... And the chemo wears you down...

      As for the new normal, I don't care for that phrase to be honest... Cancer is not normal - nothing about this is normal. But it is our new reality.

      So, I guess what it comes down to is how do you want to handle this new reality? I'm a stubborn one, and so I decided I would stubbornly keep as many activities (work and family and some fun) as possible together. I was able to do that quite well until the last cycle of the chemo. That one kicked me in the pants.

      Number one thing that helps me feel like me is exercise. When I exercise, I feel more energetic... More in touch with my body - the healthy parts...

      I have also been struggling with maintaining weight... There are some drugs that can help with appetite, but your problems might not be related to appetite. I weigh myself a few times per week - to keep track. And I make sure that I eat kind of on a schedule when I'm lacking hunger, which is most of the time. Eat what you like, within reason, of course... But eat what you like... I think that if we get a hankering for something, we need to just go eat that, if possible.... My current thing is French fries - okay, I'm a total hippie - vegan, whole foods, blahblahblah.... And the thing I sometimes reallynt is frenchfries? Really? Weird.... But, I have been eating them - around once a week - even though they are loaded with yucky stuff....

      I don't know how helpful this post is.... But I wanted to respond to say that I totally hear you. And I think a lot of people feel like this.... Or lives somehow seem to become irrelevant when the cancer diagnosis arrives. Everything changes... And it is not fun... And it takes a lot of time.

      I've been lucky that schedulers have worked with me so that I can continue teaching my classes - that has helped a ton.... That helps me feel like me.... So far, I have not missed a single class!

      Ok - that's all I've got....
      Best wishes....

      over 4 years ago
    • mysecondchance's Avatar

      My treatment lasted about seven months and at the time it seemed like it would never end. It has been 14 months since I was promounced in remission and I am grateful every day for how wonderful I feel.

      I don't know exactly what normal means to you. We can never go back to the exact same life we had before cancer. Having cancer forever changes a person much like a divorce or death. But it doesn't mean it can't be a good life. I had to adjust my thinking. For example I never thought I would have cancer; for some reason I was sure of that. I assumed I would die of old age because I have longevity on both sides of my family. I was very healthy. My primary physician called me one of her healthiest patients. That reality came crashing down on March 16, 2010.

      I have to find ways each day to put the possiblity of recurrence into perspective so I can lead as "normal" a life as possible. I refuse to waste time worrying about something that may never happen. Or it might happen, the odds are against me. Cancer may win in the end but I will not let it win right now.

      over 4 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      After my first diagnoses in 1988, and again in 89, I was declared in remission, as time gets farther and farther away from your treatment end, things start to get back to the way they were. At least it did for me. But not exactly, not possible. I am not able to do the things I used to, so I just quit trying. But in my mind I stopped thinking about it, didn't dwell on it everyday. Was diagnosed for the third time a couple years ago, and I don't think I will ever be back to the way I was, physically or mentally. I'm not scared, or worried, I'm mad. so I got involved with relay, and am a speaker for ACS's Heroes of Hope program, and I spend part of every day trying to help others.

      over 4 years ago
    • Keephopealive's Avatar

      I had cervical cancer 12 years ago...radiation, surgery, and chemo. After that my life began to return to normal and was for all those years. It returned to lymph nodes in the area ....twice...and now I don't know what normal is anymore. Although I did very well 2 years ago, it's a little rougher this time but trying to maintain "normal" as much as I can.

      My friend had breast cancer 3 years ago and she has never returned to "normal"...weight gain from the meds, chemo brain, loss of focus...although she too tries to make life work. It can be a rough road.

      over 4 years ago
    • Fusionera's Avatar

      The idea of "normal" has actually changed for me over the 17 years I've been dealing with my cancer. After my first 2 surgeries in the 90s I felt better than ever and put myself through graduate school. The 3rd time I had an extremely stressful job that I did not like although it paid well, and while I required no surgery I did two additional years of chemotherapy. 2011 saw my 3rd brain surgery, 2 months in the hospital, and a host of other aftereffects that I had not prepared myself for, and likely could not have. I prepared myself mentally for this being on par with my first two; the actual experience has been the polar opposite because the surgery was far more intensive in scope. You may find over time that what is normal changes for you.

      over 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      "normal" is one of those tricky words with no absolute criteria or definition. I think it tends to be especially tricky for us for a couple of reasons. It's human nature over time to remember things somewhat selectively. So we may remember ourselves pre-diagnosis by certain triggers but not others. Secondly, expectations for a return to a rosier "normal" than it may have actually been can become a double whammy. The concept of a journey is something that takes you from point A to point B and in many cases all the way to point Z and journeys typically aren't circular. My journey right now is moving forward through chemo and THAT is my normal. What is normal for anybody changes continually over the course of our lives, whether we have cancer or not. I don't want to go back to feeling an old normal.

      over 4 years ago
    • attypatty's Avatar

      Cancer changes your life. Period. And forever. I don't expect "normal" and you know what? I don't want "normal" back. Normal meant taking life for granted, doing things without thinking, going along with expectations and without questions. Now I know that life is both precious and precarious. Life is more intense now, both highs and lows, both good and bad. I have learned I can endure much more than I ever thought possible and that I can enjoy simple things with a pleasure I had never before known. Do I want my life back cancer free? Yes, of course. I am sure we all do. But my life will be forever changed by this experience and all for the better. I am stronger in spirit, appreciate people more, and have more empathy for others.

      over 4 years ago
    • po18guy's Avatar

      The "new normal" is absolutely correct. Once cancer arrives, you are changed. My journey, which I naively thought would last four months and be done, will continue for the duration of my life - whether my life is 6 months or 20 years. Like it or not, the arrival of cancer in most cases is a brush with death. In all such circumstances, medical or otherwise, one is changed from that point onward. Life proceeds under the new rules. I am more than fine with that, as I enjoy and appreciate life much more now than before. Cancer has become a blessing in that it has reset my priorities and deepened my engagement with God, life, family and friends. It has expanded my horizon to include fellow patients on-line. Although I remain in treatment and have lingering side effects from chemo, I have never been more content with my life. I have learned not to fear cancer, but to extract the good that it brings with it. I do not want to go back, as that would be a loss of the sense of life's beauty and fragility. As well, if I was taken back four years and offered the choice, I would take the cancer again. For me, it has been an awakening - one which makes me thankful for each breath I take.

      over 4 years ago
    • Elaine's Avatar

      my weight started falling off - so our friend the nutritionist suggested 6 smaller meals daily. and my husband found Ensure clinical strength- less sugar more calories. It is good when making a smoothie or shake. Also try to eat your protein first. Good louck!

      over 4 years ago
    • BuffalloFan's Avatar

      I don't know if you will ever feel normal. I have just started treatment and I no longer know what normal is. We just have to hang in there and live day to day with a positive attitude.

      over 4 years ago
    • civilwarlady's Avatar

      You ask a question that I have dealt with many times since my diagnosis in 2008, Will I ever be normal again? For a while it seemed like normal meant losing everything that meant something to me, meaningful work, my hair, my ability to walk, my ability to Civil War Re-enact, my ability to travel. My bullheaded stubborness keeps me plugging at it so that I can define a new normal for me as I am each day. The hair was gone so bought a wig and wore colorful turbans till it grew back in. Its shoulder length now and with a little help and a hairpiece I can simulate a 19th century style (Yay!!) Ability to walk shot to heck, got a wheelchair and borrowed a walker. Pushed for inpatient rehab after my colostomy and keep plugging at it one day at a time. Discovered I can do many things now even from the chair. The civil war re-enacting was the biggest challenge. Took alot of research and support from spouse and caring friends. Modern wheelchair doesn't work too well so we cover it with a quilt. Converted the dresses I used to wear to Victorian era wrappers that are loose fitting and comfortable and developed an invalid charachter impression. Its not perfect but it is perfect for me for this moment, this day.
      The journey takes way longer than I ever expected too. I am finding though that each day, as I find things to stimulate me, use the skills I have left etc that the journey becomes easier. Its a journey not one of us wanted to take but now that we are on it we have to slowly move along and let the moments unfold as they will rejoicing in the good along the way. Keep up the good fight.

      over 4 years ago
    • krbrowndog's Avatar

      No I don't feel that I will ever be normal (what ever that is) again. Any little spot on my skin, any irritation in my mouth automatically makes me think CANCER. I have friends who have survived cancer and they all say the same thing, it never goes away, your life has been changed forever so the thing to do, is to just accept the change and move forward through the mist, you are now in a special select group of people that have experienced something that hopefully no one else ever will. It's like being in a war, you can't tell others how you really feel because they can't understand where you have been, only those who have taken the trail you are, or have been on can possibly understand how you feel. Don't expect to ever be "normal" again it is impossible. enjoy what you have now, you're in a very special and select group of "survivors"

      about 4 years ago
    • lilymadeline's Avatar

      I know how you feel, I've been in treatment for over 3 years now...ugh...on my way to another doctor appointment this morning...again ugh! I have never felt normal again, and personally I really hate that term " the new normal" but it is kind of true...things just change after cancer.
      I only try to look forward now and not look back. Take care and good luck! xoxoxoxo

      almost 3 years ago
    • MariaM's Avatar

      "Normal" describes a range, rather than a point. Sometimes you just need to broaden your definition of "normal."

      It is VERY important to learn to relax and accept whatever is happening. Life is a constantly-changing adventure, and so is cancer.

      almost 3 years ago
    • Margie's Avatar

      i have heard that phrase for the last 8 years. I first heard after the death of my son. Then in 2011, my grandson was diagnosed with Leukemia, again the new normal. In 2012 I was dx with Breast cancer. I do not consider any of it to be normal. It is just another hill to climb and try to be happy and survive. I am considered cancer free, but I still hurt at times and my strength has gone to the way side. If I come half back to where I was 8 years, then I'll be normal.

      almost 3 years ago
    • brendalynn49's Avatar

      Unfortunately, being normal might be different after your treatments end. Take things one day at a time. The continued weight loss was a big concern for me, too, in addition to mouth sores, facial sensitivity, and severe nausau. My dear friend, keep your head up and don't worry about the weight loss. IT WILL get under control soon, as it did for me but be prepared for weight gain to happen slowly as you get your strength back little by little. I don't know what your circumstances are but again, just take your journey ONE DAY AT A TIME. My treatments have ended and my body has a new phase of "normal" than it had before the illness. It's something I have to accept and I have to advocate for myself since there are people who don't understand why I have such extreme changes in lifestyle and appearance.

      almost 3 years ago
    • evelynburris' Avatar

      I also wonder if "normal" will ever be for me again. Treatment is going on 1 year and counting! Sometimes I think yeah I don't have cancer and other times I think am I ever going to look at myself and be content? Sometimes I feel like I am pretending to be happy so that people around me don't feel bad for me. Very rarely do I ever feel "normal" except around my grandkids. They help me feel like my old self again, who I very much liked!

      almost 3 years ago

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