How Do You Get Back to a ‘Normal Life’ After Cancer?


Do you keep your job? Your friends? One cancer survivor discusses her decisions after being told her non-Hodgkin lymphoma was in remission.

A year ago today, Nina Luker was told by her health care providers that she was in remission, and while she was excited for a clean bill of health, she was also faced with questions: should she return to her job, go back to New York City, and maintain the same friendships?

After six months of treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the survivor decided to keep her job, but also to pursue a passion and become a certified health coach. She completed a course to get certified, but also relies on some of the habits formed during treatment – like daily meditation – to live her best life and encourage others to do the same as well.


So in mid-July, on July 9, I found out that I was in remission, easily one of the best days of my life. But with a remission comes survivorship and a new sense of normal. I went through six months of a life-threatening disease. And I had every single person's eyeballs on me; felt like I was under a magnifying glass every single step I took. And now, as deemed healthy again and cancer-free, I had to go back to a normal life. And I gained a new perspective while I was going through this journey, and a new sense of gratefulness. But I was a changed person. I am a changed person. So I had to make the decision. Do I want to go back to work? Do I want to go back to New York City? Do I want to have the same friends? Do I want to live the life that I was previously experiencing? And these were really, really big decisions.

And during the heart of COVID, everything was off anyways. But what I needed was a sense of routine. And what I learned from going through treatment was having a daily ritual that made me feel fulfilled was the way for me to get through the challenging times. So, I made a decision to go back to work. And I also made it a real big priority for me to follow a passion of mine, which is health coaching. So I went through a course for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, based in New York City. And I did a six-month program and got my health coaching certification. And so, on top of work, I actually am now a certified health coach who takes on clients to help them live their most profound and healthy lifestyle. So yes, I went back to what previously was, but now I'm incorporating an element of what I've learned and what I'm passionate about into my life. And with that comes the habits that I had gained during treatment. So I still meditate every single day, I work out no matter what, and I eat healthy, and I promote that lifestyle to others to help them whether they're going through a life altering disease, or they're living a healthy lifestyle to begin with.

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.

Related Videos