The New Normal After Cancer: Accepting It Can Be Hard

Dana Stewart

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
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.
Print | cure Printing...