Having cancer is crazy! From the initial diagnosis to the possible surgery, and then treatments needed, followed by the recovery period, you’re likely in the fight of your life. Most survivors (and caregivers) are so entrenched in this fight, that they are totally unprepared for the recovery. Finding your new normal after cancer can be a strange and difficult process!
This diagnosis and the journey I’ve been on since are a huge part of WHY I started this blog. I hope that by sharing my story, I can encourage and inspire others facing these difficult circumstances.
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I finished chemo treatments in late October 2006. I was THRILLED when the last treatment round was finally over!!! Anyone who’s had a long bought of illness knows how freeing it is to reach this point.
I still had to see my doctor every 3 months, but that was easy compared to driving to Lexington one day a week to spend all day in treatments. My immunity slowly began to improve. I could now start getting out of the house more (yay)!
Going back to church was also a huge step! was able to go back to church, which was a big plus. My church family was some of my biggest cheerleaders. I had missed them like crazy, so it was awesome to be back.
As my health continued to improve, we planned a Thanksgiving trip to Seattle. After being (mostly) homebound for six months, I was thrilled to go somewhere! My sister-in-law and her family live there, so it was a great opportunity to celebrate the holiday with them.
The trip was ABSOLUTELY what we needed! Our flights were smooth and comfortable. As an added bonus, we had adults on each flight compliment the kids and their behavior. Traveling with three young kids can be a challenge, so those sweet comments were a surprise blessing.
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Thanksgiving dinner was delicious (thanks to Becky). And the time spent with family was fabulous. My birthday was also over the holiday weekend. My family let me sleep in that morning, which was AMAZING!!!
Easing into Work Mode
I was continuing to feel so much better that I started visiting work after Thanksgiving. I would go in a couple of days a week and spend an hour or two at a time. My class had an awesome sub, so I wanted to spend time observing her methods.
I also wanted to get to know my students before coming back in the spring. I would also visit my own kids’ classrooms and take turns eating lunch with them. It was a nice way to ease back into it before going back full time.
After the Holidays
When the holidays were over, I went back to work, and life fell back into its normal rhythms. Things have continued on like that for the last 13 years.
People often ask me how does a person changes after surviving cancer? Do things feel the same, or totally different? Do you look at life differently now?
Does Cancer Change Your Life?
In some ways, life doesn’t change after having cancer. Kids grow up and we all get older. We continue living our lives to the best of our ability. I still have responsibilities and relationships. Chris is still my best friend, but he can also make me SOOOOOO mad sometimes! And I know he feels the same way.
As far as finding my new normal, my emotions have changed quite a bit since surviving cancer. I’ve always been a crier, but now the waterworks turn on without any notice at all. I don’t listen to sad songs, because they make me cry. I can’t even watch a 30-second sappy commercial without grabbing a tissue!
My temperament has changed a bit, too. I don’t get as wound up with small stuff as before. My new philosophy is to let things be and they will work out. In the past, I would react quickly if someone made me mad! I was much more likely to “tell them off” if I felt I was wronged.
Now, I take a slower approach when I’m mad or upset. I try to stay calm and think it through before reacting, which is usually a good thing. However, there are times when I keep my emotions bottled up inside, not ever letting myself process it, and then I blow for no real reason!
That was what happened with the truck fire in my “Five Hilarious Camping Fails” post. I stayed calm, scary calm as my kids said, throughout the whole ordeal. I didn’t freak out about it until about a week later.
We were on our way home from our salvage trip to DC, and I finally snapped! I don’t remember what it even was, but Chris and I were talking, and we got into an argument. I suddenly busted out crying but I had no idea why! It took a while but we finally figured out that I was crying about the fire.
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New Health Issues
Even though I’ve had a complete recovery from cancer, there are some ongoing health issues that I have dealt with over the years. I’ve had blood pressure issues since having children. This has, if anything, gotten worse over the years. My family doctor sent me to a neurologist for ongoing vertigo, where she diagnosed me with migraines and began a treatment plan.
Being Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
Two years ago, I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia. According to my rheumatologist, this is literally “a big pain.” After much research, I’ve learned that fibromyalgia is often triggered by a traumatic event, either physically or mentally.
This makes a lot of sense to me, having gone through major internal surgery and 6 months of chemo. My posts on fibromyalgia sleep issues, dealing with pain, and the mental health aspect of this condition can help you learn more about fibro.
Finding Your New Normal
As you can see, surviving cancer, or any HUGE health issue, takes a lot out of a person! These struggles can definitely cause changes in someone’s personality and mood, and that’s not always a bad thing. I’m still working through and growing as a person.
It’s NOT easy, but with God, my family and my friends, I am continuing to grow and become the person I am meant to be.
Until next time,