That’s me….with my wonderful husband. We were going out to help celebrate a friend’s birthday. A friend who also had breast cancer and was my first connection to the most wonderful, supportive group of survivors I’ve met.
Birthday’s seem to become more important after you have faced cancer and the thought of dying. My own birthday is approaching and while I am extremely blessed and grateful to be coming upon this milestone, I am also finding myself increasing in my stress and fears of reccurrence.
You hear a lot of talk about getting use to your “new normal” after having cancer. I’m not sure I know yet what my “new normal” is. I guess coloring my hair and styling it different so the thin, bald spots don’t show as much, drawing on eyebrows, painting my lifted damaged nails, dealing with hot flashes and putting on cute sundresses over my prosthetic so that I look “normal” to others is part of my “new normal”. Limitations in what my body is willing to do is part of my “new normal”. Taking lots of supplements, eating healthier and, unfortunately, going to lots of doctor appointments is my “new normal”. Some of these changes are good things, however some are not.
While I try very hard to fight the Cancer Phobia and fear of reccurrence, some days are harder than others. The American Cancer Society estimates that at least 70% of survivors experiences fears of recurrence. I think the other 30% are very good at masking (a.k.a. lying) about not experiencing it. With every new ache, pain, cramp, twitch, bump, etc. comes a nagging fear that ….”it’s” back!
I tend to be a very busy person and not one at all to sit around and mope or even just sit around and do nothing. I keep myself active and at times it does help keep my mind off of the elephant in the room. I also do believe in the power of positive thinking so I try to think positive so that things will indeed turn out positive. But, I’m not going to lie to myself and say that I feel great all the time. I admit, I feel scared and anxious about what may be happening to my over slashed (4 surgeries and more to come), over poisoned (chemotherapy), and over burned (sooo much radiation and scans with x-rays and radioactive materials) body. Each month brings new joy as I wake up breathing each morning and I spend another day with my family and friends, but it also brings new worries as I’m hypervigilant of all the signs that my body is still struggling to heal.
I am a fighter and will never give up in my quest to be healthy and live as long as I can, but every once in a while a good ‘ole fashion cry in the shower is a great stress reliever. So, as I learn every day what my “new normal” is looking like, I’m going to keep eating healthy, exercising, researching new ways to help myself (and hopefully others) live longer and feel better and keep the Cancer Phobia at bay. If you have any stories, recipes, or health tips you would like to share I would love to hear from you.
Choosing healthy living over dying :)