When the “new normal” doesn’t feel normal at all

I came across a recent blog on how the after-treatment phase (or re-entry if you want to compare it with a NASA moon landing) can actually be more complicated and fraught with more emotional issues than the actual treatment phase. "Broken," a post from ChemoBabe, detailed what so many other survivors have felt once treatment ends."Maybe it's self-pity talking, but I feel like everybody is sick of my cancer and is ready for me to move on," she writes. "When people see me these days, they say two things. First: 'Wow! Look at all your hair! You look great.' And, 'How are you feeling? Are you getting back to normal?'"After nine months, she says she didn't just put her life on hold during that time, she's changed and things aren't going to go back to the way they were. The comments that appeared almost as soon as the blog was posted last night speak to the magnitude of the issue. Unfortunately, it's an issue that doesn't get mentioned a lot to newly congratulated survivors. They celebrate their last treatment and end of cancer and are expected to go along their merry way. When they get home, they discover that everything is not fine and are left struggling with these emotions--often at a time when the support network that rallied during diagnosis and treatment have packed up its bags and left.We covered the psychosocial issues of the after-treatment phase back in 2008 with "Back to Normal." It may be time to revisit the topic again since it's such an important subject for new survivors. Some things to remember:1. The feelings of loneliness, sadness, and fear are normal and common among new survivors, but it doesn't make it any less serious. Just know that there are other people who have dealt with these emotions too and they would love to help you through this time in your cancer journey. 2. Just because you're no longer seeing your oncology team for treatment, it doesn't mean you can't use the social services they offered. Talk to your nurse who may be able to recommend resources, people to talk with, and advice. Survivorship clinics, which are popping up in several cancer centers across the country, may also have support programs for those out of treatment.3. And this is for friends and family: When you're diagnosed and going through treatment, a patient may see a support network pouring out of the woodwork--friends, colleagues, parents of your kids' friends, your boss's sister, your medical team--all people who want to be there for the patient and help him or her get through treatment. Unfortunately, once the cake and balloons are gone after that final treatment, that support group may disappear when the patient, now a survivor, needs it the most. Don't think that everything is going to go back to normal once treatment ends. Continue to let them know that you're there for them.How did you deal with the re-entry phase? Were you prepared for it emotionally? And if you have a few minutes, go to ChemoBabe's blog and share your advice on getting through this phase in her cancer journey. I think she would appreciate it right now.