Life AFTER Cancer...The New Normal
So, it hasn’t even been a year since I’ve graduated into the ‘cancer-free’ world, so I KNOW, without question, this might not be my WHOLE life after cancer, it’s just my life right now… after cancer.
The first thing that is completely different than I was BEFORE cancer, is that I was never sick, and I never even worried about being sick. If something hurt, well it would eventually go away. I went to all of my yearly doctor visits, so I wasn’t ignoring anything, but it was just something I never worried about. Cut to, now… EVERY little thing that hurts, or feels weird, or LOOKS weird, like a muscle cramp, a swollen gland, a freckle I haven’t noticed, a pain in my hip, etc, I immediately think…CANCER ?!?! And even if NOTHING feels ‘off’, I still live with this cancer ghost behind me, watching my every move, wondering if it wants to come back or leave me alone.
Whenever I am in a doctors office which is almost weekly, I am not shy to ask about certain things that feel weird…most doctors kind of smile because of the absurdity of thinking it’s cancer, but I am able to get an ‘absolutely not’ from them which is ALL I need. But here’s my dilemma right now, and please let me know if you’re a survivor and feel the same… I am worried about my worries… because I don’t want to be the one person manifesting my cancer to come back! I am Miss Positive, taking a negative and turning it into a positive, making this trauma in my life become a blessing, and it has become a blessing in so many ways, and I am the one who manifested that… so I don’t want to be the one who worries about cancer coming back, and then one day, yikes, the cancer is back…even writing it down scares me a little bit, so I’ll stop right here. My worries are my worries, and I am sure they are normal to a degree. I know that my doctors are watching me very closely for 5 years, and if my cancer doesn’t come back in 5 years, then it’s NEVER coming back. So be it. My worries are just in my head and have no way of making anything happen. But this is a real, slightly annoying, part of my life AFTER cancer.
The second thing about life now, very different than before, is that I am very aware of death now. I came so close to death with my diagnosis, which was the last thing I would have ever thought would happen to me… and now, after living through it, I just feel so much more vulnerable to the world, to life, to the universe, that I can’t control anything, and death is somewhere out there, just waiting for me. It does create some positive actions, however, because I really do take every day more seriously than I used to, which is both bad and good. It’s great when you make the most out of your days, and feel happy to be alive. It’s hard, however, when you put a lot of pressure on yourself to make the day great, and as we all know, not every day can be great, so a bad day sometimes becomes a VERY bad day, just because it’s bad. But then on the opposite side, sometimes I feel blessed to just be alive and have bad days, because being dead would NOT allow that! So I guess life after cancer is a little bit confusing!
The third thing about life after cancer is that no matter who I’m talking to, cancer becomes the main part of the conversation. Not so much with close friends and family, but every one else that I run into, it’s always about cancer. How I’m feeling, what was chemo like, how scary it must have been, etc…And part of me loves talking about it, because I had a pretty special story come out of it, and I love sharing it. It also makes me feel proud of myself, talking about what I went through and where I ended up. The downside is that it’s starting to become part of my identity, which I feel weird about embracing. Yes, it’s a fact, I AM a cancer survivor, and will always be one for the rest of my life. But, I am so many other things that are getting pushed away because cancer wants to take main stage. I’m assuming it’s because I’m so freshly out of the battle. Maybe, in a couple of years, it will move to the back burner. But as of now, my identity feels as if I am a cancer survivor and nothing else. I guess it could be worse, meaning I could be a cancer victim, or someone living with cancer, both of which I definitely do NOT want to be.
Anyway, I guess I’m just trying to figure out what life is AFTER cancer. And maybe there’s nothing to ‘figure out’, it is just part of my journey, and what I’m experiencing at the moment. And it’s weird to feel ‘fine’ and ‘boring’ when just 6 months ago I was fighting for my life, I was in a war, I was engulfed in something that was all consuming, and now life isn’t so dramatic anymore. My husband fights with me now, doesn't think about the fact that I almost died… it’s like everything is back to normal, except me. I feel I’m the same person, yet I’m not the same person. I feel differently about things. Sometimes I feel others don’t ‘get me’ as much as before. I don’t want drama in my life, and I see some people fighting over stupid things and I think, how crazy it is to waste so much energy on nothing that really matters in the big picture. I get annoyed at petty conversations. I don’t like hearing others beat themselves up about how they look. And, I don’t want anything in my life that isn't anything but LOVE. Love, to me, is the most healing of all things, it’s so amazing, and so worth it. Which is why I have become so passionate about Zero Negative, and promoting Love through fashion!
Anyway, I’m still a lot more positive than I was, even when I worry about cancer. I know deep down, the cancer isn’t coming back. And I know deep down, the universe has my back. There is a quote that I love, and it feels like a good ending to this blog…
‘Staying positive does not mean that things will turn out okay. Rather, it is knowing that YOU will be okay, no matter how things turn out.’