Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Waiting For My New Normal

Now that I have recovered from breast cancer surgery, my course of chemotherapy finished a month ago and I have just gone back to work ... I feel like I should be getting "back to normal".

The trouble is, I don't feel at all "normal". I have a great red scar stretching halfway across my misshapen, bony chest. I only have about 10 eyelashes and 20 eyebrow hairs left over my bare, weary-looking eyes. My head is covered with a short new layer of wispy pale grey fuzz, through which you can still see my scalp. There is a gadget, enabling easy access for ongoing intravenous drug needles, which is clearly visible under the skin near my neck. My muscles ache, my fingertips are tender and I am fairly tired most of the time.

Despite all of that, I feel good. Honestly, I do! I know that it takes to time to recover from chemotherapy; I'm strong and I'll tolerate, adapt and recover. I feel overwhelmingly lucky that my cancer was diagnosed so early, and treated so promptly with medicine that millions of people in the world don't even have access to. I have a family, healthy children, friends, a job to go back to, a car, food in the kitchen, a laptop to write on and a warm home to live in. My blessings are so plentiful that I'm almost embarrassed to list them (what a terribly British worry - not wanting to sound like you're boasting).

But do I feel "back to normal"? No. But until my "new normal" settles in and takes shape, I will just have to be patient.


  1. I hate to tell you this, but it's been over four years for me and I still don't feel normal. I'm not sure if things ever completely go back to normal (actually, I don't think they do) and I'm not really sure what that elusive 'new normal' means either. I wrote about it once... We all adjust, adapt and carry on the best we can. Maybe it's as simple as that. Regardless, I'm happy you're feeling good. And I do know that recovery from all that you've been through takes time and tons of patience. So be kind to yourself. And keep writing - that always helps!

  2. Well you never know, when you finally get to your new normal you may find that you like it more than your old normal. It took me ages to fully recover from my cancer op (in those long ago days, operations were much more invasive) but I have been grateful ever since that the shock of it made me appreciate every day instead of going through life blindly.

  3. The healing power of writing. Your paragraph about what your body is like now helped me. I am six years out from chemotherapy and bilateral mastectomies. Patience and gratitude all along the way helped bring acceptance. Your words bring me perspective. Thanks! And I think "normal" is overrated.

  4. Normal or not, you have just fought a tremendous battle and come out the other end. I am in awe. Give yourself a few months for the physical scars to heal. I remember thinking how poorly my mother-in-law looked after she had come through chemo and now a couple of years on she is a different woman.

  5. How could it not change you? And what is "normal" when you've walked that path? You have a wonderful attitude on your side, though, and I know it will help as you continue to heal.