A new normal

June 25, 2009

I have to assume the way I’ve experienced the diagnosis of cancer this past month is pretty usual, maybe even better than many people, and I have to say it’s a sobering thought.

Initially I was in such a fog of fear that I couldn’t process anything.  If I was taking action I was okay, but left alone with my thoughts for 10 minutes it was a bad situation.  And I have a particularly good situation relative to the ‘average’ person initially told they might have cancer – I make a good living, have great health insurance, have doctors in the family, work in a healthcare-related field which gives me tons of connections to the best local doctors out there, I have a high level of scientific literacy and I’m reasonably web-savvy.  Despite all of that it was a harrowing experience.  I’m now thinking about starting a website for people with my type of cancer who want to know more about options and risks of temporarily sparing their fertility, since I’ve found solid information on this topic unbelievably difficult to come by, despite all the above advantages that I have.

I’m also finding that I am definitely going to be moving towards “a new normal”.

You read on the cancer information sites that there is life “before” and “after” cancer, which seemed a bit dramatic and over the top when I first came across it, but now, almost  a month after the first news, I am starting to get it.

For one thing, there is a whole lot that is out of your control, so you want to make choices when you can.  I have often gone with my husband’s wishes in choosing a movie, for example (because professionally I make choices all day, I’ve often preferred to let someone else choose in my private life) but now I’m not so sure I’ll just spend my time on any old thing.

I am full of forgiveness and compassion these days.  Not that I was a cold-hearted person a month ago, but I find myself constantly thinking that other people have had a lot of suffering too and need to be treated kindly, and that most people pretty much do the best they can.  I also feel like I have this secret ace up my sleeve – that I can trump anyone having a bad day by saying ‘oh yeah? well, I have cancer and will probably never have a baby, so there!)

I am really feeling the need to set up comforting routines.  Meditation (so far I’m all talk and no action on this, but I have downloaded a ton of podcasts and bought a few books), regular exercise, healthy low-carb eating.  Having a pretty and comforting home. Having nice pampering things around me (creams, essential oils, bathrobe, etc).  Getting rid of clutter.  Tackling some of the huge organisation projects that have been on my ‘someday’ list.  Doing everything I can to take really good care of myself basically.  Being kind of zen about my weight too – I want to eat in a way that is healthy and fresh and avoids sugar and its carb cousins, but I know the treatement they will give me next week is an appetite stimulant (given to anorexics, if you can believe the irony!).  I’m likely to go up a bit before I stabilize, and further loss will likely be s-l-o-w.  And that’s okay.

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