At the Start of 2023, I’m Reflecting on My New Normal With Cancer

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Life looks a bit different after my cancer diagnosis and the COVID-19 pandemic, making me even more grateful for the people in my life.

As this new year begins, I reflect on the difficult medical year I had dealing with my chronic cancer in 2022. BUT, I got through it. After having multiple medical tests in 2022, a new treatment emerged for me that has helped more than I could have ever hoped.

As I enter 2023, I see all the new lines on my 71-year-old face, but I also know they were well earned. I believe that in the face of adversity I learn the most about myself. Through the storms I have experienced, I gain strength and more appreciation for all the blessings that I do have in life.

When I wake up and take account of my assets (and I don’t mean financial!), I am not only in touch with the reality of living my life with cancer and a supportive family, but I’m also in touch with the new normal I need to adjust to as I enter this year with an advanced treatment for the first time.

The other new normal is still living with the threat of COVID-19, especially with my particular type of blood cancer. One thing I find very difficult is not being able to socialize with my friends. Everything I have read still says, “Get vaccinated and act unvaccinated.”

I was warned about eating indoors in restaurants, so in Michigan that means waiting until the spring for the treat of eating outdoors in a restaurant again. I have, however, decided to take somewhat of a calculated risk to eat in my house with my family. Thankfully, they all try very hard to protect me because they know how important it is for me to see my grandchildren.

In reflecting, a good year isn’t necessarily determined by material success, physical comforts or even emotional serenity, but rather how we grow from the difficult times we’ve experienced. How did we come out of it all and how do we move into the future? If we did emerge from this past year with more strength and resiliency we will hopefully and likely have emotional security heading into the new year. That may be partially up to us... if we can maintain a positive attitude.

Reflecting and accepting a new normal as I enter 2023 will help me as I go into this year. I’ll begin with the realization that my new signs of aging are also from all my smiles, and the joy, love and support I have had from my family.

Making the decision to follow Dinah Shore’s advice is also key for me. “Trouble is a part of life, and if you don’t share it, you don’t give the people who love you a chance to love you enough.” (And that includes close friends!) Allowing my inner circle of friends to know when I’m scared or concerned about what I’m facing also gives me the scaffold I need to move forward to deal with my new normal.

Personally, I find writing to be therapeutic, as well. If you haven’t tried journaling your thoughts as you move through the uncharted territory of your personal cancer, you might want to make this New Year’s resolution and give it a try. Who knows? You may be very pleasantly surprised.

As I begin this new year, I am grateful that I get to spend time writing this blog, thanks to CURE and you the readers. Hope we will all go into the new year taking care of ourselves as best we can— emotionally, physically and spiritually! Happy healthy New Year to everyone!

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