Barbara Tako is a breast cancer survivor (2010), melanoma survivor (2014) and author of Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools–We'll Get You Through This. She is a cancer coping advocate, speaker and published writer for television, radio and other venues across the country. She lives, survives, and thrives in Minnesota with her husband, children and dog. See more at www.cancersurvivorshipcopingtools.com,or www.clutterclearingchoices.com.
New “normal”? “New normal” is a phrase 1 question. After two cancers, life is different and so am I. My health will never be the same. My stress level will never be the same. My life will never be the same because it now includes follow-up appointments and tests, side effects and more worry. The wait-and-watch game will be mine for as long as I live. I now combine cancer monitoring into the rest of my life, which has changed focus, too. Can you relate?
Before cancer, I was and still am a clutter-clearing trainer and author. I offer readers and listeners a variety of weeding out and organizing tips for them to pick and choose from. My ideas incorporate personal stories with a touch of humor to help people remember. I also write and speak about my cancer experiences. Some days, it is harder to incorporate the before-cancer person with the after-cancer person. I accept my life, but I am not sure I want to call it “new normal.”
Did my perspective and direction shift after cancer? Yes, I am better, after clutter clearing and after cancer, at focusing on life priorities. Clutter clearing isn’t about keeping up with the mythical “Jones” or achieving perfection. It is about freeing up time to pursue your priorities.
The details of clutter clearing don’t interest me as much since cancer. I am better at seeing the big picture – cancer – because it is a constant reminder of my mortality, helps me pay attention to life priorities and helps me not to get hung up on the trivial stuff and the stupid details.
How do I blend in now that I am a cancer survivor? I get to choose: I can wear my cancer on my sleeve as a badge of, of hope or I can keep it private. I usually choose to share my cancer experiences with some people in my life but not everyone. I don’t wear cancer paraphernalia—my own personal choice. I do share my cancer scans, worries, and biopsies now with certain people in my life but not with everyone. I always share when someone has need of the comfort that a fellow cancer survivor can offer.
I am a “different” me after cancer. In some ways, that is actually good. I hope I listen more and speak less. I try to pick my words more carefully and I try to be less critical of others because I don’t know what it feels like to be in their shoes. Hopefully, I am kinder. I am probably more somber.
New normal? Since cancer, I am more serious about simplification and priorities. A few dust bunnies or some temporary clutter just don’t matter very much now. People, not stuff, are the priority. Time matters way more than money. Busyness for the sake of busyness seems foolish now. Can you relate? Did your cancer experience change your career or attention? Were you able to integrate your before-cancer life with the direction you are heading now? How are old you and new you different and what do you think about the words “new normal”?