Cancer: When It Rains It Pours
April 18, 2017 – Dana Stewart
Worry or Embrace With Cancer: It's My Choice
April 17, 2017 – Jane Biehl PhD
Breast Cancer: The Quest for Knowledge and Answers to Questions
April 17, 2017 – Bonnie Annis
Relay for Life: A Volunteer Opportunity for Survivors
April 17, 2017 – Felicia Mitchell
When Is it OK to Refer to our Cancer in the Past Tense?
April 15, 2017 – Khevin Barnes
Like Arnold Once Said, "I'll Be Back"
April 13, 2017 – Ryan Hamner
Cancer Survivor: What's in a Name?
April 13, 2017 – Barbara Carlos
Cancer-Free?
April 13, 2017 – Edward McClain
Parceling Energy With Cancer
April 12, 2017 – Jane Biehl PhD
Radiation Treatment Help From a Breast Cancer Survivor
April 12, 2017 – Barbara Tako

The New Normal After Cancer: Accepting It Can Be Hard

Almost from the very beginning, I had heard the words “new normal.” The doctors, my friends, other survivors would all say, “this is your new normal.” What? I don’t get it. I don’t want cancer to be my new normal.
PUBLISHED April 03, 2017
Dana Stewart was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 at the age of 32. She is the co-founder of a cancer survivorship organization called The Dragonfly Angel Society. She volunteers as an advocate and mentor, focusing on young adults surviving cancer. She enjoys writing about life as a cancer survivor, as well as connecting survivors to the resources, inspirations and stories that have helped her continue to live her best life, available at www.dragonflyangelsociety.com.
I am on the verge of being a seven-year survivor of breast cancer. A few years ago, saying or thinking those words seemed impossible. I am grateful for every day I am here surviving cancer. However, what I thought would be easy but turned out to be nearly impossible, at least for me, is understanding the HOW of living as a cancer survivor.
 
I thought that once I got through the diagnosis and the laundry list of doctor appointments, surgery and weeks of chemotherapy, life on the other side of that would be a cake walk. Yes, I was naïve and I think even now, seven years later, I may still be that naïve survivor, as many things still surprise me about how to live life after cancer. Almost from the very beginning, I had heard the words “new normal.” The doctors, my friends, other survivors would all say, “this is your new normal.”
 
What? I don’t get it. I don’t want cancer to be my new normal. That’s crazy! I am still me; I haven’t changed.
 
The more I struggled, the more people told me about this new normal world I am in. I ignored it. I pretended I hadn’t changed and I flat out didn’t accept it. Looking back, that was not a good approach. It’s taken me years to start to walk down that path of seeing that this really is my new normal. I am still me, but I am not that same person. I left her behind years ago. It makes me sad now because I never really mourned her. I never really got the chance to say good bye to who I was, and I am sad for that.
 
People often say, “One door closes and another one opens.” Perhaps that is true. After all this time, it is the approach I have now taken to start accepting this new normal. It’s difficult. The door that closed leaves a world behind that I truly miss. However, what’s past this new door is pretty great. There’s no point in looking back. I learned that the hard way. For me, the best expression is poetry. It helps me get the words out clearly from the jumble in my head. My thoughts on walking through the door to the “new normal” world are summarized below:
 
Closing Door
By Dana Stewart
 
The door slammed shut.
Just like that it was over.
What I knew was gone
Never to return again.
I don't get one last look?
I didn't get to say good bye.
How could I have known?
They are pulling my hands away,
Telling me to walk on.
Dragging my feet,
One last look back.
The door, so far now,
Far behind,
Out of reach.
I look over to catch a glimpse.
The door, is open just wide enough.
A face within view,
A face of the past,
The one I think I knew.
She is crying, yelling.
But I can't hear.
Pulling me,
Pulling me,
Pulling me away
Why is she crying?
Open the door, walk through!
Please! Come with me!
She stays behind
The door slams shut.
She is gone and I left her
Helpless.
So familiar that face I look again.
Nothing there.
So far, far away.
Pulling me, Pulling me, Puling me away.
Turn forward
A new door
Asking me,
Begging me.
Please! Step through!
This is.... The new you.
 
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